Master the Art of Business
A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.
Measurement is the process of collecting data as the system operates. Measurement also makes it possible to compare systems with one another.
The best way to avoid Absence Blindness is to measure to identify potential issues that you might not be seeing.
The first step to improving a system is collecting data, and you do that with Measurement.
Once you've understood the parts of the system and how they interact with each other, it pays to ask another question: how well is the system operating? To do that, we rely on measuring the system as it's operating.
Measurement is the process of collecting data as the system is operating. By collecting information related to the core functions of the system, it's much easier to understand exactly how well the system itself is performing.
Measurement also allows systems to be compared to each other. For example, it's possible to use several different types of microprocessors to build a computer-which one should you use? By measuring various characteristics of each processor-cycle time, power consumption, heat generation, etc-it's possible to choose the best processor for your computer, resulting in better performance.
Measurement helps us avoid Absence Blindness when analyzing a system. Remember: we have a hard time seeing things that aren't present. Measuring different parts of a system in operation helps to identify potential issues before they arise.
For example, diabetes is a condition that represents a fault in the Feedback Loop that controls the body's blood glucose levels. Too much or too little blood glucose is life-threatening, so if the body produces too much or too little insulin to keep blood glucose levels stable, that's a major issue.
Even though insulin levels are extremely important to a person with diabetes, you can't figure out a person's insulin or blood glucose level just by looking at them. Without measurement, Absence Blindness is the rule until the condition becomes bad enough to become visible, which typically takes the form of the person passing out or going into shock. To avoid this situation, people with diabetes make a habit of measuring their blood glucose and insulin levels throughout the day.
Measuring something is the first step to improving it. Peter Drucker famously opined, "What gets measured gets managed." It's true.
If you don't know how much money your business is collecting or spending, it's difficult to know whether or not any change you make to your business system is actually an improvement.
If you want to lose weight, you first must know how much you weigh right now, then track how any changes you make affect your weight.
Without data, you're blind. If you want to improve anything, you must measure it first.
"In God we trust... all others bring data."W. Edwards Deming, production management expert and pioneer of statistical process control
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Master the Art of Business