For thousands of years, people have celebrated the craziest thing.
At new year's eve, we celebrate that the world succeeded in making a complete orbit around the sun. For 4.54 billion times in a row. Quite a streak.
But do we need to follow the same orbit metric in our job?
We compare our professional activities, business trends, and performance in one complete orbit with the next complete orbit. It's what Morgan Housel calls the "Tyranny of the Calendar."
This doesn't always make sense.
Yet these questions might sound familiar to you:
What went right in 2022? What went wrong? Which projects were finalized this year, and which projects were started? Did you stay within the 2022 budget, and what funding do you need in 2023? What laws have changed that impacted the business this year, and what is the regulatory outlook for next year?
2022 compared with 2023. Or the 4.54 billionth successful orbit compared with the 4.54 billionth +1 successful orbit.
So again, does it make sense?
But is it risky?
I think so.
Because only focusing on the yearly metric, we risk overlooking the most critical metric:
The Unpredictable Event.
Preparing for a The Unpredictable Event, like a gloomy law violation or an unexpected opportunity, is the actual goal.
- If your team is prepared for The Unpredictable Event, then terrible yearly metrics don't matter much: you did your job.
- But if your team wasn't prepared, well, then brilliant yearly metrics were blinding you.
Yearly metrics, or any periodic metrics, do matter, but approach it with reason:
- Change the metric: Break down the little steps to prepare for The Unpredictable Event, and measure with a yearly cadence whether you are better prepared each year.
- Enlarge the window: Make the period to measure more extensive than one year. Why not compare the first 1000 days of the team with the next 1000 days? It's as arbitrary as an entire year, but the window is bigger.
So, are you waiting for Earth's next orbit?
Or for The Unpredictable Event?