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The Perils of Ignoring Data

This blog was inspired by the driver of a small commercial truck I passed on the highway today. It had one of those bumper stickers that says “How’s my driving. Call 555-5555”. As I passed, to my surprise, the driver was holding his GPS in front of his face leaning his arms against the top of steering wheel while directing the truck with his palms! I thought “what an idiot”. Then I thought of the countless times I have seen other drivers (of all ages) texting, shaving, reading or otherwise being distracted while driving. It happens daily, yet we have all been well educated about the perils of doing so.

The data are (National Safety Council);

  • Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving.
  • 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.
  • Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to travel the length of a football field.
  • Texting while driving causes a 400 percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road.
  • In 2015, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Yet given this data, many choose to drive distracted.

Consider how we rely on data in our businesses and how choosing to ignore it can also lead to catastrophic consequences.

Remember Three-Mile Island? When system failures began and the operators were receiving data that suggested over heating of the core, the data was dismissed as faulty alarms. How many airplane accidents have you heard about where pilots chose to dismiss alarming data as faulty or conversely, rely on bad data to make decisions, each causing dire consequences?

Data is important a crucial to making good decisions in business and in life. And while it’s important to challenge data for accuracy, ignoring it can be even worse. Bad data leads to bad decisions. Ignoring data leads to worse decisions.

Too often I have seen leaders in business make emotional decisions when “it doesn’t feel right” or simply just “react” when in fact, taking the time to gather and review the data would have likely resulted in a better outcome.

Don’t blindly accept data. Obtain it, review it, challenge it. But don’t simply ignore it!


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