Friday, July 8, 2011

Thirty Years of Jobbers – Chapter 4-3

One of the effects of technology has resulted in the compression of time.  For example, in Ernest Thayer’s poem, published in 1888, “Casey at the Bat,” he described, in nerve-racking detail, a fictional event which later became known as ‘the world’s most famous baseball poem.’

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air, and Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there. Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” The umpire said.’

If we compress time, the entire story could have been reduced to simply, ‘Casey struck out’ and it would still be accurate, but if you go back and study the text in its entirety, it sheds light on just WHY Casey struck out, and that information was lost with the compression of time.

A compressed view of a business is like receiving the results of an equation without knowing how to we came by the results.  If ‘4’ is the answer, is it the result of ‘0 + 4’, ‘1 +3’, ‘2 + 2’, ’3 + 1’ or ‘4 + 0’? It might even be ‘2.58745 + 1.41255’.

A simple explanation of micro-management is to have a method of filtering, selecting and scrutinizing each minute detail that affects a business cycle, in which case the end of a period, say one month, becomes just one more event in the cycle. I'm not suggesting you must personally spend your days studying every product purchase and sale that goes through your POS. That would be ridiculous. Please, don’t miss this point.

Whatever management exercises we perform, we must be able to refer back to the detail with great accuracy, so when problems do occur, we are able to determine why we lost a nickel on a particular tender instead of simply wondering why a general category is failing.

Three things are necessary for micro-management to be successful. First, you need access to the information; second, you have to have a way to organize, manage and examine that information; and third, the analysis of that data must be simple and straightforward.

It's of little help to simply collect the data and leave it lying around. You need some way of foraging through the information so you can get at what is relevant and you need to organize the data in some form that will be meaningful and interesting to the person who requires it. Businesses MUST learn how to get the information they need without waiting for computer programmers to decide what they think they need.

At the time we collect the detail to be used for analysis, we probably have no idea what information may be relevant later on. Knowledge gathered through experience creates new questions. Scientist use petri dishes, test tubes, refrigeration, heat and microscopes. Small businesses use computers, cash registers, pump controllers, scanners and people. 

Organizing the data properly is no secret. There are but a few simple rules and techniques that our computer forefathers, James Martin, E. F. Codd, Clive Finklestein, Ed Yourdan and others, gave us three decades ago. The problem is, very few programmers today adhere to these rules.

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