The greatest innovators, revolutionaries, and leaders are those that have an instinct that goes against the grain of conventional wisdom, against the numbers and the prognosticators. It was just a few years ago that Steve Jobs rolled out his idea for a new device – what is now called the Ipad – to great hollering and predictions of failure. All the numbers proved that people loved their laptop, and their phones and so there wasn’t a need for a new category. The polls all suggested no one thought they needed it. And yet…it worked.
There’s a big push to get involved with “Big Data” among non-profits, businesses and organizations. Big data has only recently been made possible through the new technologies that track individual habits, purchases, interests and trends. As such, we have more and more information by which to interact with customers, clients.
The excitement over this movement is out of proportion and overlooks the number one, and still under appreciated, fact of great leadership: You’ve got to follow your gut. Certainly there are some leaders whose instinct is remarkably bad, but even still the “human factor” – the ability to sense, understand, and respond to cultural differences and sensibilities – is the greatest advantage you have.
Data is great for measurement, it can be helpful in telling you what happened, but it cannot tell you when something has become cliché until it has already bottomed out.
Don’t be followed by this new fad, get more human – not less – and you’ll see your effectiveness rise.