Gregor Cuzak

on marketing, business and philosophy

Managing the unmanagable


If you can’t measure you can’t manage it. Right? Wrong!

The problem with many things in the broader context of life and also the narrower business of, well, business, there are always things you can’t really measure.

For example, how does one measure effectivness of a new product logo?
Or, in IT, what is the incremental contribution to the productivity of a company from a server that is 20% faster? And will we sell more because of a new luxurious brochure?

One of the outcomes of the above-like happenstance is avoidance. Some people tend to avoid the darkness. And so they ignore the soft issues declaring them both irrelevant and uninteresting. These people believe in rationallity, yet manage not to mess up things that they don’t understand. I call them naivgnorants.

Others measure things artificially and extrapolate their supeficial results and then arrive at absurd make-believe constructs. My friend calls these latter people the shamans of the vagueness theory. Vagueness shamanism is among the major mental illnesses of our modern society. Look at the stock market, and think about the news about the stock market. Do you really believe that daily events affect valuation of companies? I mean real value? Or how does saving 2 minutes in an app improve productivity? The problem with this vagueness is not only that people don’t see the forest for the trees, they actually don’t want to see the forest. Let’s just call these people the foggies. And beware of mocking them, for in the most of the cases at most of the times this is the group you, and me belong to.

The way to manage the unmanagable and measure the unmeasurable is to measure and manage its boundaries. Whenever a direct measurement is not possible, imagine it as a knife that is not a suitable instrument of inspection if you want to observe a living frog. Keep the frog intact, i.e. don’t measure it, especially not with a knife, and rather observe it and learn from its behaviour, not its body parts. The same applies to business. A good logo may simply fit an organisation and energise it to new heights, but only if it fits into a broader context. Such a context might be a culture-reinvigoration project. A logo is a psychologic symbol, and if used properly, a very strong one. The key is the element and its context, the whole.

Thus, things always have boundaries, be it physical or abstract. And boundaries are very fit for measurement. Eventually one finds out that even the so called hard figures are no more than a pretense of solidity on an otherwise soft subject. Ask a tax advisor about what profit is, and he will say that it depends on what you want it to be. Actually, the masters of their domains always find ways to transcend solid things in fluid ones and vice versa. And so it is with soft and hard subjects in the business of, well, business.

And yes, I owe you the name of the people capable of managing soft stuff as if it were hard by properly applying the boundaries. They are the boundbalancers.

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