if a tree CHANGES in the forest…?

July 24, 2008 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Business, Professional Development | Leave a comment
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we’ve all heard the question: “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?” Today I was in a discussion with a colleague around some strategic changes we made that reminded me of that old question. (OK, the analogy is going to be a stretch, but it did remind me of it, and it’s a catchy title.) We knew during our planning that the changes made at the start of the year would make year-over-year comparisons pointless on a particular set of metrics — but we all get used to seeing data in patterns and love those tried and true metrics. Especially executives.

Predictably, our metric is down YoY (as planned) but we were challenged: “if the metric is down, you must be doing something worse.” My colleague is frustrated and tired of trying to educate, and reeducate, everyone on the fact that the YoY metrics are NOT going to be meaningful, and oh by the way, that trusted metric might be, in fact, down a lot MORE had we not made a change. And there’s the rub.

Proving what something *would* have done (for better or worse) had a change not been made is an impossible task because it’s too easy to throw one hypothetical after another to either support or refute any reason for the change. How should we prepare for that? What challenges should we be prepared to answer? Sounds like a few good topics for future posts.

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