We had a fluke winter storm over the weekend which was precipitated by an official Winter Storm Warning from the National Weather Service. They had predicted 5-8” of snow but we ended up with only three.

I know that the government spends millions on weather forecasting and has an army of employees whose sole purpose is to predict the weather patterns. I have seen a tiny sliver of the complex weather data that meteorologists have available to them, and yet they often miss the mark regarding timing or amounts of weather events.

And then I pause to realize that I can’t think of any future happenings that I can accurately pinpoint, let alone hour by hour.

Even with all the data to support their forecasts, the future is unpredictable. Yet every day we expect not only meteorologists to look into their crystal ball, but professionals in many fields to do the equivalent with far less data or predictability. Sales managers are required to submit projections as to the number and dollar value of anticipated transactions, enrollment leaders are expected to land within a narrow range of how many 17-year-olds will make a multi-thousand dollar decision in their favor, and investors place millions of dollars on hunches as to where a volatile market will land.

Data are beautiful things; they help us make sense of the past and have better guesses about the future. Just remember that even with robust data backing it up, it’s only a projection until it’s the present.

 

 

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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