When is comes to mapping the future, numbers and values are your best guides.

Most modern organisations sit on mountains of unused data. This week I saw a simple piece of analysis, which showed that what we actually do is quite different from what we think we do. The true weight of activity, costs and revenues are very different from what the organisation’s in-house narrative would suggest.

A few simple excel analyses, can often reveal more than any amount of management information and meetings. And having seen top end consultants ‘follow the money’ to map out an organisation; there’s no getting away from the fact that ‘money talks’.

But it doesn’t tell you everything. And usually it doesn’t tell you the most important things. The numbers tell us ‘what is’, not ‘what should be’. 

Mapping long-term strategy is harder than ever; the twin drivers of technology and regulation are constantly enabling and disrupting, redirecting and distracting entire industries and sectors.

And here’s where values matter. No senior team or board is going to agree on exactly how the future will unfold. Nor should they. But ‘standing for’ some things – and holding them dear – is the means to know better what to do and where to go.

Numbers tell you what you are, but only values can give you a confident sense of where you want to be. Get the coordinates and bearings right and the future gets far easier to navigate.

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