Dickeson on Productivity?Dealing With Data Paranoia

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.

Remember the “Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allen Poe? If you really have something to conceal, the best spot to hide it is in the most obvious place possible. It just won’t be seen. One of the problems we have today is “information overload.” There’s just so much statistical stuff around us we don’t see it. So if I handed you my customer list together with last year’s sales data for each of them, what would you do with it? Go out and steal all my customers?

Hold it. Time for a reality check. If you posted last month’s income statement on the bulletin board by the coffee maker, what would happen? Would everyone come flocking in for a raise at the end of a good month? Would everyone come marching in volunteering to take a pay cut in a bum month? Reality check, please.

We’re observing the distinction in response to information between our emotional side and our logical persona—between the right and left brain lobes. Image vs. reality is the conflict we’re experiencing. We have an image—a perception—that secrecy and non-disclosure are needed to preserve our vulnerabilities, our insecurities. But our logical brain is saying, at the same instant, “Who gives a rat’s patootie?”

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