The dangers of data-led decisions in business
Data, data, data. There is so much available and generated by ever-sophisticated technology. It’s the new gold and has been for a while. Big business, such as Google, Amazon & Facebook, are huge data farms, capturing everything and producing increasingly significant predictions on how and what we are going to need, want or do next.
Last night’s airing of ‘Undercover Boss’, showed some alarming side-effects of leaders whose businesses focus on achieving efficiency and productivity, in order to create the value gap between borrowing cost and return on investment.
It’s the human cost.
Whatever business we are in, we are in the people business. We have both customers, who are human, and employees; they are not data points, and certainly not machines.
Fair play to the episode’s boss for recognising the difficulties that some of the employees he met had. My challenge is why did it take him to go undercover to notice? And whilst addressing the specific examples in the programme, it leaves me wondering about others in similar jobs throughout the organisation who did not feature.
Culture starts and is maintained by those in an organisation and it is led from the top.
We can run healthy and sustainable businesses that have heart-led leadership; it does not mean we make ‘soft’ decisions, or sacrifice the profitability of the business to keep everyone happy. What it does mean is leading with compassion, with empathy and with people at the heart of our business.
Ask a manager if they would like highly energised and engaged employees who want to go above and beyond simply their job description, and the answer will always be yes. Well, performance matrices alone fail to motivate and engage the vast majority of people. We must look beyond the urge to further drive down immediate costs in employment contracts of the lowest paid, or having them on uncertain employment terms, as this devalues them and the contribution they make.
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