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Dickeson on Productivity?Dealing With Data Paranoia

February 1998
You're bowling. You heave the ball. It's halfway down the lane when the lights go out. You hear the pins rattling, but how many went down?

Similarly, many printing companies are working in the dark. The folks see and hear the work going on everyday. They roll the balls down the alley, but then the lights go out. They never get to see the results. Why? Data paranoia.

How long would you continue to bowl if you never saw pins fall? Never knew your score? You just wouldn't have the incentive. So how do we expect people to have incentive for the work they do?

Unreasonable Fear
On the six o'clock news we're constantly hearing stories about hackers getting into computer systems. About Big Brother (Uncle Sam) and Little Brother (Internal Revenue Service) knowing so much from their data banks that our constitutional right of privacy is eroding. We are so constantly being spooked by stories of companies or people learning our "secrets" that we're nearly afraid to pick up the phone and call mom or dad for fear someone will be tapping in to listen to what we're saying.

Yeah, there's a lot of data paranoia—unreasoning and unreasonable fear—going around these days. Maybe it's not paranoia, maybe it's data schizophrenia. One personality says, "Tell me the results or I'll lose interest," and the other one says, "Don't you dare try to see what I'm doing. I want to know your average score, but I don't want you to know mine."

Don't you wish we could just say, "Take two aspirin, drink lots of water and get plenty of bed rest," and our fears and anxieties would go away? We can't, so I'll give you Dr. Roger's prescription for data spookiness: Just say, "Who gives a rat's patootie?"

Company managers who are scared witless that competitors will see the company's financial figures should stop and say, "Who gives a rat's patootie? We know the numbers, and we're not doing so hot with them. So if competitors got our numbers, what could they do with them that we haven't? Have they got time to sit around and worry about our results, or are they occupied with their own?"

I've mentioned before the frustration consultants and accounting software folks have with companies that will spend a bundle installing a system and then never seem to read the figures and take the required corrective action.

 

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