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Hard vs. Soft

hard or soft data

In this  world of “Big Data”  our natural curiosity fuels the urge to seek to understand the essence of every detail, because the data is now available.

Knowledge gives us potential but it is through practice we build mastery.  So I just want to say something radical here…not all DATA matters.

We have to ask ourselves to identify the value of knowing.  It’s the classic, SO WHAT question.  The answers will help us decide if it is worth the doing to know.  Big data without a business strategy provides interesting but worthless insight unless the data can drive action.

And sometimes, I have to admit – we struggle for strategic clarity. So we look for the data to help us bring clarity.

But here’s the conundrum: data that doesn’t drive action doesn’t matter. It is important to establish the hard trends separate from the soft trends.  The hard trends are those things we know are going to happen and everyone can agree:  demographics are getting older, government regulations will increase, technology will continue to enable new ways of doing things which means we will forever be in a state of dealing with legacy systems.

And to be clear, I don’t worry about legacy systems, I worry about legacy thinking as we approach our future. Our view of the future effects how we move forward.  And that view is effected by our view of the past.

So learning to identify our position and opinions that shape our view, let us be aware and intentional.  Then the hard facts enable us to focus on the things we can do something about.  This is truly what makes it possible to anticipate what lies ahead.  Are you using both the hard – data and the soft?  The data empowers us to predict scenarios and prevent certain outcomes.  Without this approach we will forever be in a react and respond mode and unable to lead.

And as we work to fill in the blanks, learning to identify the soft trends with a clear identifier of MIGHT will make it clear what we have left to figure out.  It will prevent us from beginning to believe in the reality we have envisioned as REAL.  It only lives in our scenario planning.  This clarity of the hard, soft and our own opinions allows us to separate the noise from what really matters.

And it is in this moment we lead with clarity and can begin to practice the agility  of our leadership and build our mastery of leading in this dynamic world.

I look forward to hearing how you challenge yourself to ask the “SO WHAT” question so you can lead with clarity and the intention to do your best work.



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