I’m a qualitative kinda guy. My worldview is one shaped more by stories than numbers. At my core I like to think that most people, really, are like me. But I also know that I am probably wrong.
I viscerally react against the quantitative. That’s almost a definition of the qualitative mindset, I guess. Gut over brain (even if there appears to be evidence that the gut is a brain of sorts).
All of this is just part and parcel of how I see the world. It makes it hard to fit in to the overbearing numerical pseudo-objectiveness of most modern organisations. Worlds where nothing has value unless it has a value attached. And where the choice of those numbers is, oh the irony, totally subjective.
But what if an organisation were to be built around storytelling rather that spreadsheets? Not banning numbers entirely, but putting them in their proper place, used to calculate rather than control?
Isn’t that, maybe, what “moonshot” thinking is all about? Isn’t this what the likes of Elon Musk do all the time? Putting solar-powered electric cars on the moon, or whatever it is that he’s up to these days?
And that’s the challenge, I guess. Organisations start off as subjective beasts, the only numbers being those of survival, all else hanging around “the story”. And then for a few comes expansion and great wealth and a period when they are rich enough to do just about whatever they want. And some then burn out and crash in flames.
But the others, well they grow up and get all objective, or get acquired and drown in a sea of a thousand spreadsheets. And these professionally managed organisations then spend their time hiring people to try and get them to tell stories again, not realising that their stories have been strangled by the accounting practices and performance management processes.