Reading this article about big data from one of my favorite marketing publications got me fired me up. I began to think about all of the hours I have wasted in meetings pouring over reports that ultimately didn’t matter. Don’t get me wrong, information can be a powerful tool but the question I have for you is: are we getting a little too geeked-out on how much information we have access to these days?
Review your last few meetings, the inbox in your office and on your computer, and all of those big binders you have on your shelves. How much of that stuff do you rely on to manage your business? If you were to put some thought to it, aren’t there really a handful of reports in the “must have” category and the rest simply exist because “that’s what we’ve always done,” or some report-happy person in your office says they are necessary. So…we continue to kill trees, printing these things off and dragging them into meetings where we ignore them for various reasons.
How about your poor sales force and what you are requiring them to do? When I worked at Sealy I can remember the people at corporate sending e-mail after e-mail requesting information from us so they could generate more reports to create more programs that would require more information to generate more reports. Sometimes you wonder what they’re thinking up there in the ivory tower. Then I went to work for Serta where I WAS up in the ivory tower, so what do you think I did? You got it; I sent out multiple requests for information to create more reports.
Here are a few ideas for you to consider:
- Be VERY CLEAR on what you need to measure and how often you need it. If you are trying to track the wrong information, it isn’t going to help you.
- Is the information helping you to make important decisions? This sounds like a dumb question but you would be surprised how many reports exist simply because someone at some point was simply curious.
- Is more than one person gaining value from the report? What one person calls important isn’t always the case for multiple people. Why do we have this person slaving at their desk for hours formatting a report that only one person even looks at?!?
- Have a meeting and create a list of monthly reports. Then ask your team which ones you just CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT. See what happens and delete what you can.
We are without a doubt in the information age, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Put this topic on the table at your next meeting and I can almost guarantee you are going to learn some things you didn’t know. Let’s stop wasting time and get to what really matters like selling products and making money.