Tracking what wasn’t done

Too often, when we keep track of things (primarily through statistics) we track what was done.

An example would be the baseball shortstop who we “evaluate” based on the number of plays they make vs the number of errors they make (for example, a shortstop who fielded 500 balls and only made 5 errors was successful 99% of the time vs a shortstop who fielded 500 balls and made 10 errors was only successful 98% of the time). While these are easy statistics to keep, it doesn’t factor in the number of balls the shortstop SHOULD have fielded but didn’t. The best fielding shortstop doesn’t always have the best fielding percentage because the best fielding shortstop might get to a lot more balls than others and since he is getting to balls others couldn’t (or wouldn’t get to) those are probably more difficult to field and therefore he is more likely to commit an error but that does NOT mean he is a worse fielder than the shortstop who didn’t get anywhere near that ball.

An attorney who wins 90% of her cases might be an excellent attorney or might simply be very selective in the cases she chooses to take on. By not taking the difficult cases, it increases her “winning record” but is not indicative of her talents as an attorney.

Soccer coaches like to keep track of shots hit and shots scored. I believe it would be just as relevant to keep track of opportunities NOT taken.

Salespeople like to go after the easy “mark” because they are the easy person to sell. However, while it might increase their sales:prospect ratio, they might be missing out on great opportunities because the not so easy mark might result in a much bigger sale (or possibly no sale at all).

Statistics can be very valuable however, let’s make sure we track what wasn’t done as well as what was done.

Have a great day!

Lawrence

One Response to “Tracking what wasn’t done”

  1. This has long been the case in medicine, where the best docs take the difficult cases, many of whom die. “Success ratios” can be meaningless.

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