Image courtesy of ‘While you weren’t listening’

My daughter is obsessed with quantity: “How long? 5 minutes? Oh, that’s such a long time.”

“How many days until I go back to school? 2 days? That’s such a long time.”

My favorite:

Me: “You can only have one.” Daughter: “But I want 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 19!”

She’s not much different than the rest of us. If you can’t quantify it, it doesn’t exist. We get trained early on focusing on grades, sizes, personal records – give me any quantity, people will flock to it. And so they do, at their own peril. Just ask the math wizards on Wall Street who almost brought the economy to its knees with their models, derivatives and CDO’s.

Data linked with analysis doesn’t tell you the truth. It provides an assumption of the truth. Nothing more. Any Black Swan will destroy this assumption in an instant.

We see this pervasiveness and blind belief in data everywhere: Employees are resources that need to be utilized. Brands consider people targets that need to be tracked and hunted down by more and more ads.

It’s time to grow up, my daughter will one day, and learn that quality is often more important than quantity. You can’t compare 5 minutes at the dentist with a 5 minute hug of your loved one. Employees have non-quantitative strengths that are not measurable. We just know they have them. Just like products and services have non-quantitative strengths that transforms a product from a commodity into an object of desire.

Sales people are often measured by the quantity of their calls, not the quality of their interactions. Customer Service agents are being judged by the number of calls they handled, not the value they provided to customers. The list is endless.

Sure, we need to constantly improve our data sets and optimize them. But, the altar of data is not worth praying at. Leaving non-quantitative factors out is a road to nowhere. Integrating measurement into a more holistic, dare I say, human perspective should be the goal. Let’s use data and technology as a tool to better understand, innovate and change the world. Time to grow up. Who wants to be stuck in the “2,3,4,5,6,19” rut forever?