Not all opportunities follow from the numbers

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of measuring things and I talk a lot about making goals measurable. But I hope that doesn’t mean I’m a slave to measurement. For example, I’ve previously said that we can be somewhat successful without actually taking measurements.

Another thing to be careful about is how to choose what options to explore. Making something measurable makes it easier to select one option over another, but it doesn’t necessarily tell us what our options should be.

For example, a tech startup typically begins with someone having a hunch, or noticing a gap in the market, then trying to create a prototype and looking for “product market fit”. They can run tests and measure the results. Numbers can help them in this this—for example, to identify statistical significance. But numbers don’t produce the hunch; they aren’t always necessary for identifying the gap in the market.

Similarly, in a more established company we may wish to capture or create a new market. This is a strategic decision, again driven by personal experience, assumptions, and a little dreaming. And once again, it’s very plausible—and not at all unreasonable—that the experience, assumptions and dreams that drive this are not based on finely measured data.

Some opportunities are not easily measurable in the first instance… even if we might then use a little data to judge the next small step. Some opportunities may not have data readily available to us… even if we were to produce some later.

If we were to only identify options and opportunities by thinking about what is easily measurable, or what the available numbers tell us, then we would probably miss some of the best opportunities out there.

Photo by border.garaku

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