I was reading the news headline and there was a lot of interesting news headline, especially in the business section on the Channel news Asia

DBS says crisis could cost Singapore 99,000 jobs
“Credit Suisse predicted that some 300,000 jobs could be lost in Singapore this year and the next.”
India’s economy slows to 5.3% in Q3, lags forecasts
Economists lower Singapore’s economic growth forecasts

Sometimes I really wonder how are all these numbers arrived at? Did they consult some high priestess in the oracle or did they visit the gypsies?

I have an old buddy who once shared with me after he started to run operations, the manage engaged in the game of “Future Prediction”. So curious I asked him how it works. The processes are as follows

1. Compare the trends of the business volume for the past few month, and try to guess this months work volume.
2. Key them into an excel submit it to his boss for record
3. On the mid-Month, make a new guess. Whenever you change the number, you will be sent for a long meeting to explain why the number is increased or lowered
4. Finally at the month end, when the actual figures occurs, then the real fun begins
a. If your predicted figure is too low then actual, go into a long meeting to explain why its too low. And get a scolding for not being accurate
b. If the Figure is too high than the actual, go into a long meeting to explain why you failed to hit the target. and get a scolding for not being accurate
c. If the predicted figure is 100-200 dollars difference, then everyone is satisfied, no meeting is required.

As the steps move from 1-C, you will be constantly asked about a old figure that you have gave, then you are force to check your data all the way to years ago. When you first made an initial forecast. All the steps require extensive beautiful looking reports that will be admired for hours in the meeting room, and of course its my friend who needs to prepare this,

As I heard my friend talking about it, I was thinking how he made a prediction that is more accurate, so I asked him, “Is there any patterns or trends you can follow?” “What is the dependencies that can affect the volume?” the answer from him is simply “No” His customers are also unable to predict how much work they can generate.

Sometimes I wonder whether this is the process how the above estimates are being done, and I really question whether this data are actually useful to the business or not. If the business is purely dependent on work generated that is not within its control. so whats the big picture in this?

Sometimes I feel we are all living in a report hungry era. Where everyone wants reports for every little thing. And the moment they receive 1 report, they can spend hours trying to make sense of the data. Which is the reason why many sukhomlinov business leaders succeeds. they make very beautiful reports, which mainly doesn’t show anything.

Reading this on will most likely reminded you of the story I shared about the Emperor’s New Clothes.

So.. businesses, stop behaving like the silly king, who because of “Face Issue” rather choose to parade himself naked before the general public. So instead of spending precious man hours in predicting a future that cannot be predicted, as well as spending hours to churn out reports after reports. Let us all move forward and make money instead.

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