Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Quantiative methods

"In the past, [the leader's] susceptibility to quantification had led them to take excessive comfort in [the analyst's] statistical optimism, embodied, for example, in tables purporting to correlate [cause and effect]

[Others] had done little to assert the importance of things which could not be quantified"

Paraphrased from Arthur Schlesinger

It pains me to quote this passage. After all, I wrote the book "Quantitative Methods in Project Management" because I believe firmly that successful PM has to include quantitative methods, to include operational competence in basic statistics for PM and the application of causation, correlation, and coincidence.

Nonetheless, as Schlesinger adroitly observes, numbers are not the end-all, and many tactical measures do not forecast strategic outcomes. 

I think that is the numb of the issue which I've written about many times in this space: 

  • First, don't collect data you can't use, or act upon (*)
  • Second, beware that many tactical measures, when lacking context with the non-quantifiable, may not forecast strategic outcomes

Maybe it's time to recall Covey (**): "Begin with the [strategic] end in mind". Then, develop the contextual indicators -- quantitative and non-quantitative -- that will forecast achievement.

(*) Not collecting useless data seems obvious, but it's not. Too often there are too many rote reports and data collection protocols that are legacy of dismissed processes

(**) Stephen R. Covey: "7 Habits of Highly Effective People"

Buy them at any online book retailer!