Author: Harvee Pene
Why didn’t coalmine canaries have fitbits?
Every Friday we just want to stop the world for a moment and give you a couple of real tips to think about that will make a real difference to your business and in your life.
There’s an old saying advising us all that prevention is better than cure. And it’s absolutely true – in health and in business. The problem is that oftentimes, illness strikes and has us in its grip before we realize what has happened. This also happens in small businesses. You wake up one morning, the sun’s shining, breakfast, off to see the accountant and suddenly you’re being presented with a P&L sheet written in red blood ink. Where’s the warning? Is it too late? Will panicking help or will open-mouthed shock save us? So many questions as hysteria starts shutting off oxygen to the rational parts of the brain. And yes, sadly, sometimes it is too late… sometimes.
Canaries are “lag indicators”
A long time ago in lands far, far away, canaries where taken down mine shafts with coal miners. The theory was that if the canary lost consciousness (okay, died) because of the presence of noxious gases, it was time to evacuate the mine. Okay, two things here. Firstly, yes canaries lack the capacity to survive poisons in the quantities that we can but also they don’t need as much oxygen to stay alive (hmmm). Secondly, and closer to the point, by the time anyone noticed the deceased canary there was very little time, if any, to escape. Kind of like having a reverse parking warning tone go off after you’ve hit the car behind you. Too little too late.
Fun fact: an elevated heart rate (even in canaries) can be a sign that an avoidable oxygen crisis is somewhere around the corner.
If only 19th century coal miners had fitted their canaries with fitbits, they would have noted the elevated avian pulse rates and headed for the nearest exit. Alas…
The value of “Lead Indicators”
Unlike the canary, a fitbit uses facts to offer precursors to what might happen next as opposed to what has already happened. Newspaper reports, P&Ls and almanacs are basically, historical records. From this we can deduce what went right and what went wrong.
You, we, all of us are often better serves by “lead indicators”. A “Value of Sales Pipeline” is a great example. It’s useful because it will tell you what is going to happen (good, bad or indifferent), well before it actually does. This gives you time to make adjustments – strategic, operational etc – that will benefit your business. If you are genuinely interested in how you can proactively drive your business forward and grow and protect your profits, we’d love to chat with you about that proactively instead of re-actively.