Leading indicators: there is more information than you think | Chris-Warburton.com

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attended a talk by the Bank of England providing an overview of the UK, its economy and outlook.Now whilst the discussion itself was very interesting (the latest report here), what I also found illuminating was the process the BoE uses to gather its information for forecasts, and the lessons we can learn in the rest of the business world.The Bank of England processAs you would imagine they have teams of statisticians gathering data from multiple sources, with this data being fed to bank economists to ‎explain performance and forecast trends.However they also have a team of regional agents, who roam the country observing economic conditions directly. These agents speak with businesses, systematically recording what they hear and gathering ’the word on the street’.It turns out that these indicators are actually excellent ‘leading’ indicators of economic changes, often providing information and insight before there is sufficient data to be seen in official statistics.True in the rest of the business worldWe also have teams of data analysts gathering data from multiple sources, presenting this information to management teams to explain performance and trends. It is often the role of the Business Intelligence team these days.However, how many of us also have ‘agents’ in each department, ‘systematically’ recording information that doesn’t come from these traditional data sources?Expanding on traditonal measuresUnfortunately for many of us we continue to largely remain reliant on traditional metrics and forms of measurement. We are left analysing this historical information to make data based decisions, trying to divine future performance. Yes, we may hear customer feedback, but this is often anecdotal rather than robust systematic data input.Just like the Bank of England, conversations with customers, suppliers and employees, recorded correctly, can provide additional valuable insight… and aid in this decision making process on a more timely basis.An easy place to startWhilst many companies do already have customer listening programs, these are typically targeted at improving customer satisfaction levels.However structured correctly these can also provide an insight to economic conditions, changes to the market, competitor product development, outlook on future sales. They should form part of your leading indicator metric suite.Setting up your processThe BoE uses a points based system, however the key is ensuring that the program is defined, structured and supported.Once you have support and the data has started to be gathered it needs to be reviewed not just in terms of what has happened or customer satisfaction, but also the wider view of what could this mean for the future, as indicators for other areas of the business.Organisational Resistance?Gathering anecdotal data and building leading indicators is never easy. It feels there is a suspicion; an air of disbelief in the approach and it is always easy to return and retreat to the world of traditional metrics.The value addWhilst these traditional metrics are undoubtably invaluable, developing these additional data sources can yield valuable actionable data to help stay ahead.After all if the Bank of England can do it, is there value to ‘double down‘ on a similar approach for us all?

Source: Leading indicators: there is more information than you think | Chris-Warburton.com

Millennials prefer new media over the TV and radio

While millennials spend around as much time as the older generations consuming media, the kinds of media consumed is changing, a recent L.E.K. Consulting report finds. The radio and traditional TV are being replaced by on demand services, while video games and social media are taking time away from other mediums. Across the millennial generation, not a great deal changes as they move through life stages, highlighting that traditional media players need to change their strategy or risk losing market share for good.

Source: Millennials prefer new media over the TV and radio

The Limits of Empathy

Talking to people—asking them how they feel, what they want, and what they think—may seem simplistic, but it’s more accurate. It’s also less taxing to employees and their organizations, because it involves collecting real information instead of endlessly speculating. It’s a smarter way to empathize.

Source: The Limits of Empathy

New Zealand earthquake lifts a bizarre sea wall up to land | Popular Science

Some of the landscapes look completely alien, even though the cause is entirely terrestrial. This is the wonder of plate tectonics. The enormous slabs of Earth’s crust that our continents and oceans sit atop are not stationary. They move around, mostly at rates so slow that we can’t tell there’s movement at all (except by using scientific instruments). Mostly the plates exert a constant, gradual force in one direction or another.

Source: New Zealand earthquake lifts a bizarre sea wall up to land | Popular Science

Bed Sizes Around the World | FlowingData

When you book a hotel in the United States, you know what size bed you’re going to get, based on the description. But when you travel to other countries, the bed size in the place you visit is often different from what you’re used to, despite having a description as such.In some places, a king bed is actually smaller than a queen bed here, or a twin/single bed might seem more like a double.Wikipedia has a non-comprehensive list of bed sizes in different parts of the world. Here’s a visual look at the variations.

Source: Bed Sizes Around the World | FlowingData