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The Not-Knowing-You-Can't-See Phenomenon

| June 18, 2015 | By

My youngest son had passed his driver’s license test and was doing the perfunctory eye exam before getting his photo taken.

“Not that line,” I heard the DMV lady say to him. “No, that’s not right,” she repeated.

My son exclaimed that the machine must be broken and she graciously allowed him to try again on the next machine over.

“Come back again with your new glasses,” she sighed.

He couldn’t see. How was this possible?

He was an excellent athlete with great hand-eye coordination. His nickname was “peanut butter” because he made crazy catches as if the ball stuck to his hands and never once complained about struggling to see the board in school.

Had he not completely flunked this eye exam neither he or I would believe he needed glasses. Truth is, we were shocked. Not being able to see and desperately needing glasses was not even a problem on our radar.

Most parents better than I would not have this experience. However, I realized that this is a common phenomenon.

It’s the Not-Knowing-You-Can’t-See Phenomenon, and it isn’t specific to needing eye glasses. It’s actually rampant in many businesses.

Understanding the Not-Knowing-You-Can’t-See Phenomenon

Most executives, managers, owners, and staff suffer from this problem. They put in processes and procedures and let them run. They believe that everything is running fine, smooth, are highly efficient and yes, are even proud of them.

The truth is, because they don’t know that they can’t see, they are operating with myopia and need some business-glasses.

The glasses that you need to see the stuff-that-you-can’t-see in your business is analytics. Simply defined, analytics are an analysis of data that allow you to see patterns and other meaningful information gathered.

Good analytics should be simple to access and understand.

So, for example, how long does it take us to respond to a wet spill in this general area? Is there a deviation of wet spill response time by type of event (or location, or personnel)?

The questions may be simple, but they should be tantamount to the success of your operation.

The secret to useful, meaningful analytics is good data. How the data is captured is essential.

Do you have processes in place that capture data ad hoc?

For example, when an incident occurs, is the data being entered after the incident is handled or AS THE INCIDENT is being handled?

If any of your data is being captured after the incident, you my friend are suffering from the Not-Knowing-You-Can’t-See Phenomenon.

Data after the fact is not reliable and you cannot depend on its veracity. Instead you have information that was in some way altered or “remembered,” and as such is just kinda-sorta.   

Good data is the only way for you to have good analytics and the only way for you to really see!

Invest time and money in processes and systems that allow your staff to capture the information at the same time that they are doing their job.

Example – use software that captures response times because incidents are reported from dispatch, through all of the stages to ‘closed’. Capture everything about an inspection as the inspection is being performed – not after.

Only utilize software that’s easy to use so that everyone uses it and EVERYTHING gets captured.  Software that eliminates clipboards, handwritten notes and manual data entry are your operations Lasik surgery.

Once my son put his glasses on, his world changed, as seeing was indeed life changing for him. Many very efficient, well managed, and smooth running operations suffer from the Not-Knowing-That-You-Can’t-See Phenomenon.

Fortunately, all you have to do is look at where, when, and how your data is being collected. Tweak those processes to ensure there is good data for good analytics.

Over to You

Soon, you’ll be sharing your own I-didn’t-know-that-I-couldn’t-see story. I look forward to hearing it!

Debbie Popkin is Vice President of Administration at ISS 24/7. Debbie’s specialties lie in designing and implementing infrastructure, processes and analytics.

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