The One Thing You Need To Start If You Want to Get Good at Data Analytics

Data science, data analytics, big data, data driven decision making. You have probably heard all of these terms before. You may also feel that these terms are for people who have higher degrees in math and computer science. But anyone can gain an edge on their competition by just being one small step ahead of them. The secret to getting ahead: count something personal every day.

In business today there is so much going on. You are working hard to manufacture your product, make sales, keep your employees happy, and make sure that you are complying with whatever your government says. In the midst of all of this at the end of each year (or sometimes shorter period) you get a roll-up of all of the numbers to see how things are going. You may look at the reports, make some tweaks and plunge back into the raging river to swim as hard as you can until you pop your head out of the water again to read the next set of reports.

Reporting on a regular basis is a good practice. It helps guide your business as a long-term investment. Knowing where you stand, and where you are going, is very important. But there is one thing that will provide you with even more insight into how your business is going. That is choosing and counting the one thing that is how you know that you are moving daily towards your target. You may be familiar with a key performance indicator (KPI), a measure which shows you how well your company is performing. What you also need to be looking at is what your target condition is for today. A target condition is the level of performance that you are shooting for every day. For example, if you are intent on losing weight, your target condition will be to only eat a certain number of calories today, and to exercise a certain amount. Some days you will hit your target condition, some days you will exceed it (exercise more, eat less calories), and some days you will fail (pizza party!) In the long-term, if you hit your target condition every day, you will get to your end result, and your KPIs will show this. In our weight-loss example your KPI of weight will demonstrate when you are successful. You will be successful because you hit your target condition every day.

An Example

Let’s talk about a quick example. Let’s say that you are in a service business. One of your KPIs is that you have positive cash flow coming in. Cash flow is a good KPI, and a great indicator of success to review at the end of each period. In order to get to this KPI, you will have to set a target condition for your service delivery. The target condition is that each service truck makes 3 service stops each day. Everything else within your business needs to work around this. Making the target condition, and how you are performing towards them, visible to everyone will help everyone work towards the same goal. Your salespeople will make sure that there are service calls booked, your maintenance crew will make sure that the trucks can be on the road.

It should be noted that the target condition is not just a target. Some days you might succeed, other days you might fall short. If you regularly achieve your target condition, you have to increase the condition so that you will continue to grow. As in exercise, if you never increase the challenge, you won’t every become stronger.

Count Something Today

Set a target condition for yourself today. Then count. If you measure every day, and honestly report to yourself, you will find that once you look back you will see growth in ways that you never expected.

Attribution – I learned about target condition from the book Toyota Kata by Mark Rother.