I frequently “walk the ferry” to get in a few extra steps and some exercise when coming home from watching my granddaughters. The ferry from Edmonds to Kingston is about 25 minutes in duration, and by the time I get done from start to finish, I’ve logged a little over a mile at a 19-minute pace.

How do I know?

My Apple Watch is set up to track my exercise. I begin the counting when I start the climb up to the passenger area and end when I’m back at my car. It’s pretty consistent – a mile at about 19 minutes.

Except when it isn’t…

One day, I decided to walk on the sun deck. It was a beautiful 70-degree day, the sun was shining, and I wanted to enhance the scenery of a galley and a bunch of passenger seats to the Olympic Mountains and the beautiful Puget Sound.

As I was nearing the final ten minutes of my walk, I took a look at the counting watch to track my progress. The pace and movements were right on track, except there was one metric that wasn’t. The distance walked.

My watch read that I’d walked a little over four miles!

How could that be? The sun deck was only slightly longer than the passenger deck!

Then it occurred to me. As I was outside now, the watch was picking up the actual distance between Edmonds and Kingston, not my walking. By the time I was done, the five miles that separate the two cities on the ferry run had been logged. Now I can assure you, THAT was a new record pace for walking!

You might say, “Well, Dan, that’s an example of ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out.’”

Actually, it’s not.

The watch was accurate. The time I walked, the pace, and the calories were perfectly correct. And, so was the distance it charted. The difference was the location that was given it to calculate.

Here’s what this means for you.

All the information you receive for your business, your company and (quite frankly) our personal lives, may be completely correct, but if provided in a format where it wasn’t relevant, will skew the information you are using to make decisions.

Think about the information you use to make business decisions. It may come from a number of internal and external sources. Think of the information you ask to be provided. That information – as it’s given – may be correct. However, if like my watch, the accurate information was using different variables, then my decision may be based on “bad information.”

The moral of the story is this.

Ask for the right and pertinent information. Get as good data as you can all the time. But then make sure to check that something doesn’t look strange. A 5-mile walk when only one mile was actually completed raised suspicion. The numbers were all correct, just not done in tandem. What decisions are you making based on all correct information not being arrived at in tandem?

Next time you need to make any decision based on internal or external data, ask yourself if the walk matches the distance.

Quote of the Week:

“The greater our knowledge increases the more our ignorance unfolds.”

~ John F. Kennedy

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