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  • Writer's picturePatrick Keefe

The Story Behind the Numbers

When my kids were growing up, we tracked their growth by making marks on the wall. Every time they celebrated a birthday, we added a mark and they could see how much they had grown. We had marks for my wife and I because every kid likes to be taller than their parents.

We started to do the same thing for our grandkids and my oldest granddaughter - who will be nine (9) years old in a month - was in the kitchen looking at her mark last week. So I said, "Wow, you're almost five (5) feet tall." And she said - with a big smile, "I want to be taller than my mom and I can't wait for my birthday to see how far I have to grow."

She's got the end in mind for her growth - taller than her mom. Business owners can learn from the simple wisdom of a nine-year old - if you've got a goal, you've got to measure against it now and then to know if you're getting closer or you've stopped growing and you need a new goal.

Peter Drucker is quoted as saying, "You can't manage what you can't measure." It's true BUT you also can't measure in a vacuum and interpret where you are or you can make measure and still make bad decisions.

Take my granddaughter - she's 4 feet, 9 inches tall at 9 years (don't tell her I know) and her mother is 5' 7" (and at 37, I think she's done growing). So, a nerd like me looks at the CDC growth chart to see she's in above the 95th percentile and being taller than her mom is a realistic goal - while pursuing gymnastics as a competitive sport is not.

Numbers help you manage but they are only part of the story. And someone who is a good consultant understands the numbers and the story beyond them. It's what I strive to do. So don't fear numbers and measures and instead, embrace what they tell you.

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