It is all about the context of two data points. Should we be asking “What Happened?” or “What is Happening?”
If “What Happened?” is correct, this suggests a specific change has occurred and we would like to know the cause. If “What is Happening?” is correct, this suggests a systematic problem that we need to address. We can’t just fix the one data point we don’t like.
ALL data that can be plotted in a time series overtime should be accounted for. It does not matter if you are measuring your monthly investments, your company’s profits, the number of patients at your clinic, the number of qualified web leads, or the product characteristics of manufactured products. Many people today continue to look at monthly measures in just a spreadsheet format. If you are looking only at spreadsheets, you may be missing a lot of information. You may not be learning as much as you can. If you are an organizational leader, you may be asking the wrong questions and sending your teams in the wrong direction. We should try to get at least 12 months of data and plot the data over time. Sure, we would like more than 12, but it is a start.
It is about learning and increasing the speed of learning. If we know exactly when to ask and what questions to ask, we can learn the most. We all have limited resources and we need to focus on areas that require the most attention. Please stop the two point comparisons.
If you would like to learn more, I made a short video based upon presentations I have delivered over the years.
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