Is Your Organization Doing 90 on Empty?

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In his book Seinlanguage, comedian Jerry Seinfeld makes an insightful, and hilarious, observation about perspectives.

Jerry Seinfeld“My parents had two constant arguments while they were driving, over how fast my father was going or how much gas was left in the tank.

My father had a standard defense for either one of these. It was always, “That’s because you’re looking at it from an angle. If you were over here, you’d see.

From where you’re sitting, it looks like I’m doing ninety on empty. But that’s because you’re over there. If you were over here, you’d know I’m in the driveway with a full tank.”

Ever felt like that as a leader? Ever found yourself looking at the metrics of your church, your department, or your organization and said to your team, “Wow; things are heading in the wrong direction.” But someone else looks at the same information and says, “That’s because you’re looking at it from over there. From over here things look just fine.”

The bottom line is that when you’re looking at your metrics, you need to know if you’re doing ninety on empty, or actually sitting in the driveway with a full tank.

Here’s what I’ve learned from effective leaders.

  • Know your business. Do you know the seasonal trends that can affect data? Do you know how other churches or organizations are doing under similar circumstances?

  • Know your people. Who are the optimists? Who are the pessimists? Who are the realists? Knowing your people will help to filter their analysis.

  • Know yourself. Are you a “glass half-full” or “glass half-empty” person? Being aware of your own inclinations can help bring clarity to how you view information.

The next time you’re looking at your metrics, try filtering it through these lenses.

Who knows? Maybe you’re doing ninety on empty…

How do you ensure you are accurately assessing your metrics?

the author

Scott Cochrane

3 comments

  1. Great post! Such an important point. I think sometimes we think that just because something has a number attached to it that it must be measured. So we look at the numbers over other components. Some of the most important things to analyze might not necessarily have hard figures to them. The internal spiritual condition of those present vs. how many are in attendance, for example. Knowing what to measure is as crucial as the perspective you take in measuring. Thanks for getting me thinking this morning.

  2. Hey Kim, thanks for weighing in. Every leader wrestles with what you’ve pointed out- “If there’s a number, I have to measure it!” That’s really tough in the local church. There are good reasons to know how many people are in attendance, but is that the primary focus?

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