Concentrating on how fast we process data is a dangerous and unhealthy trap. Rather like fast food, we don’t consider what we’re consuming, and fall foul of the carb rush.
We’re entering (if not already in) an era where processing faster is ceasing to be an advantage. Except, maybe on trading floors, where milliseconds enables us to take advantage in a passing, temporary trade. It doesn’t add any real value to the stock being traded.
In areas of rather more substance, the data is valuable but partial. It will tell us where we’ve been (though maybe not why), but is a poor indicator for anything other than the very short term of where we’re headed.
Like the carb rush though, it’s as addictive as it is unhealthy.
Data is great for those judged on their operational strategy. Lots of numbers, comparisons, forecast returns. We become seduced and blinded by the beauty of the numbers, and judge the strategy at speed. Read the executive summary, maybe scan the rest. Compare the numbers to alternative offerings, Judge. Move on.
The foundation of strategy though does not lie in the numbers. It lies in awareness, purpose, spirit, relationships, agility, imagination, reflection. All qualitative, not easily measurable, yet vital.
The reason that the vast majority of operations strategies fail is because they are not grounded in these softer qualities. A fast food diet with little real sustenance.
I find it a sobering thought that most of the stuff of operational strategy is moving towards algorithms. Much better than us flaky humans at analysing history and projecting it forward and removing the extraneous, outlying data that is the harbinger of change, but not renowned for it’s imagination or thoughtful questioning.
The qualities that will define lasting success in the next era will be our ability to think, reflect and imagine. If we don’t make time for that, as individuals and organisations, we’re likely to have the useful lifespan of fast food packaging.