Weighing the Benefits of Quantities, Streaks, and Trends

People put a lot of weight on numbers, especially those that show significance in terms of accomplishment:

  1. 100 days in political office;
  2. 10,000 followers for a social media influencer;
  3. 100,000 likes for a viral post on the worldwide web;
  4. 1,000,000 units sold;
  5. 1 billion customers served by a fast-food chain.

But as much as we pay a lot of attention to quantity, we seem to pay less notice to quality.

  1. What percentage of constituents were satisfied with the politician’s performance during his 100 days in office?
  2. How frequent did followers visit the social media influencer’s website?
  3. How many likes did the viral post author get for his other posts? 
  4. How many of the 1,000,000 units sold were defect-free or without complaints from buyers?
  5. How many of the billion customers served were satisfied with the fast-food’s service? 

We seem to have it in our human nature to celebrate quantity over quality.   

Maybe it’s because quantity is easier to grasp and recognise. 

It gets complicated if we say we sold 1,000 good quality items out of 1,050 produced.  People will ask what happened with the 50 that didn’t make the cut?  We’d end up explaining what we did wrong with 50 items rather than what we did right with 1,000 items. 

It’s our nature to see the bad more than the good.  Hence, just being one-dimensional, just by citing one simple number in quantity makes our achievements more tangible and easier to brag about. 

We also like to celebrate streaks and trends.  In sports, we take pride in winning so many games in a row.  During the CoVID-19 pandemic, nations would tally how many days they had without a single infection and cite it as a reason to loosen restrictions, at least until one comes along and causes another lockdown. 

We take what we can from quantities, streaks, and trends.  But we will hesitate to appreciate ratios and quality statistics. 

We’d prefer a manufacturing plant manager report employees worked 1,000,000 hours cumulatively without an injury rather than say there was one injury out of 2,000,000 man-hours registered.  People would ask what was the injury and how and why it happened. 

Still, we should ask ourselves:  what are the benefits of reporting quantities, streaks, and trends?  Is it to boast, make us look good, and build our reputations?  Will it increase our influence resulting in something positive and tangible in return?

We sometimes focus a little too much on what’s it about for us when maybe we should be asking what good will it also be for them—the customers, the likers, the readers, and stakeholders. 

This is my 100th blog post.  Though I rather prefer the few readers who visit my site like what I wrote than how many I posted.    

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