I wrote this tweet in 2013, after seeing the McKinsey article on digging into details.
The world has been moving to big data, and at the same time executives keep trying to abstract away the inherent bumpiness in the data. Instead, they should be embracing properly grouped details (adding and simplifying complexity based on the particular leadership decision facing them). The head of sales for a large corporation needs a different view of the results when briefing the board than when doing 1:1s with division sales leaders. Those leaders need a different perspective when meeting with a group of sales managers across product lines, geographies, and sales reps.
The sales manager who totals up everyone’s numbers and says “we hit quota!” is missing out on a world of opportunity without even knowing it. We all *know* that sales managers are supposed to coach reps individually on their specific weaknesses. But time doesn’t always allow for that, or the sales organization doesn’t even have the structure or mindset to look more deeply into the activities and outcomes of the team, customer by customer, contract by contract, purchase by purchase.
When I work on strategy, I tell everyone that a great strategy is one where you could tell all your competitors and they either wouldn’t or couldn’t copy you. We feel the same way about this discussion – we can write it here in black and white, but very few people will be willing to rearrange their comfortable averages and see what’s really going on – because they realize that they don’t know, and if they don’t know, it might be bad, and if it’s bad, it’s either going to be their fault or their responsibility to clean up, and responsibility means the prospect of failure. And that’s where most people stop the internal dialogue. But when the P&L is tied to your bonus, or your equity gains value when the company creates value, there’s upside to be had.