Are statistics overhyped in leadership?

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Unlike math, leadership is not only a science but is an art as well. Many leaders control everything they do, based on statistics, or data available, while often that presents them with only a tiny part of an overall answer. An old proverb rightfully says, “Everything that you can count does not certainly count; everything that counts cannot certainly be counted.”

Too many lawmakers work by letting polls dictate their behaviors. In recent years, we have often observed various misleading and inaccurate polls. Like many other kinds of statistics, polls are usually misleading because they focus on the sampling, the pollster, how the questions were asked, and what questions were asked, and how they were presented.

Similarly, I have, many times, noticed budgets containing infinite flaws and misinterpretations. While adequately prepared budgets are precious tools, poorly prepared ones can be quite troublesome and dangerous. Because far too few leaders take the importance of the budget process seriously enough, flawed budgets are often approved (and passed) with little or no relevant or significant discussion. In my half a decade of consulting organization experience, I have seen these flawed records become the structure and commencement of extensive organizational financial chaos.

It is pretty easy to misinterpret data, either by design or in error. When we hear reporters and business stations discuss data, we often hear them use the expressions “worse than anticipated” or “better than expected.” Have you ever wondered how meaningful or accurate the original information was if we almost never hear that something happens as projected or anticipated?

One of the most significant challenges to many businesses today is membership and its related areas. Mostly, leaders choose to make specific changes because they feel there are significant cost economies. For instance, many firms have largely curtailed mailed communications, depending on digital communication and email instead. While that absolutely decreases expenses, almost every research shows that when people are given the option to select digital magazines or mailed magazines, the vast majority are picking mailed. Therefore, while eliminating these magazines saves expenses upfront, have the leaders thoroughly considered and evaluated the impact of reduced communication on membership communication and how that reduced communication may abbreviate member retention numbers. Also, how might this move impact the potential to reach out to a broader audience of sponsors, potential members, etc.?

Every leader should know both the pros and cons of statistics and how they can use them advantageously and the potential for misinterpretation and even abuse and exploitation. Statistics are normally like the tendency today for fancy rhetoric – – it seems fantastic but falls short when it comes to actual value and substance.

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