I read a prelude to former table tennis international and now broadsheet journalist Matthew Syed’s new book, Black Box Thinking.
He quotes the technical leader of runaway F1 leaders Mercedes, Paddy Lowe, comparing 2015 with 1987;
“When I first started in Formula One, we recorded eight channels of data.
Now we have 16,000 from every single parameter on the car.
And we derive another 50,000 channels from that.”
An example duly provided from the mind-boggling eight sensors on pit-stop wheel-nut guns. Which assess timings, torque, angles and all manner of precisions.
Mistakes and gaps in knowledge are sought. Critically, they are seen not as threats to ego or status, but huge opportunities from which to improve.
Possibly the most bizarre marginal gain case study possible comes from hot dog speed-eating.
Rank outsider (“slight and short”) Japanese student Takeru Kobayashi doubled the world record. He consumed a ridiculous 50 in 12 minutes.
The way he stripped down the task to its component parts, adding or altering each one, is a tale I simply have to recount to a salesteam as soon as.
It is this concept of channels of data that gets the juices flowing.
I am a fervent campaigner against too much data. As the political movers in companies I sadly have met know all too well, if you want to keep an enemy off your back, ‘swamp them with reams of data‘. It’ll confuse them stupid and they’ll be out your way for ages.
There’s also the ugliness of analysis paralysis. Assess anything for long enough and you’ll tie yourself in knots. Crippling indecision and fatal inaction inevitable.
Here appear two crucial guidelines. The ‘data’ must relate to key component-part variables which impact your process. The ‘data’ must be able to be judged in isolation, where no other variable can either influence or be blamed for undesired results.
In our solutions arena, a late-80s eight should be a good and easy starting point for today’s Sales. Your octobids, perhaps?
As a footnote I spotted that the book on launch sees James Dyson lending a quote for the cover. It begins with a terrific reminder about the journey to success;
“Creative breakthroughs always start with multiple failures”