It’s extremely commonplace in today’s data-driven world to make big decisions based on information provided by databases and reports. It’s simply the nature of progress and technology. Data-based decision making is a by-product of the need to be more agile and swift in reacting to changing business needs and proximity to the situation or process becomes less mandatory.
However, staying solely focused on data adds complexity to an already-complex world as well. The more we focus on data only, the further we distance ourselves from the true activities within a process.
That’s why nothing truly compares to going and seeing what’s actually happening within a process with your own eyes. Principle #12 from The Toyota Way states:
“Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation.”
Data can tell you a lot of the story, but it can’t tell you the whole story. Going to see the process or activity yourself lets you gain a better understanding of what’s truly happening, information that can transcend the data.
So what are some of the benefits of seeing in person versus translating data?
- It’s easier to grasp an understanding of the process when you see it in action instead of simply a series of numbers.
- You can comb through different pieces of information that data couldn’t tell you.
- You can trust your own vision more than you can trust reports. You see inputs and outputs as they occur, where missing or corrupt data can be misconstrued or disruptive.
- Seeing tells you more of the story.
- It’s easier to formulate and ask questions of people, machines, inputs, and outputs when they’re all right in front of you than when poring over a table of numbers.
- Sometimes the answers are more subjective, and data is wholly objective.
- A bad process can be identified and rectified. It’s less obvious to identify bad or corrupt data.
- It’s harder to do root cause analysis when you lack proximity.
The list can go on and on. Spending more time with a process or situation establishes a greater level of intimacy and understanding that a spreadsheet could ever expect to do.