Tip #740: Why Numbers Aren’t Enough

“A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.”  Plato

I looked at a request for proposal for leadership training a few days ago and was astounded at the specificity of the topics desired: 3 levels of leadership, 5 C’s of trust, 3 management styles, 8 team essentials, and 5 critical elements of accountability. The training was also to cover other topics, including “praising through GIFT.”

I have to assume that the requestor must have read books that touted these and thought they were great. The problem is that, when I Googled each, either I found several that could fit, nothing that fit, or several claiming more items than specified (8 management styles, 11 team essentials, etc.)

As just one example, were the three management styles supposed to be authoritarian, democratic and laissez-faire, or  directing, discussing and delegating? And if the last three were meant, would that have been labeled the three D’s of leadership instead?

(By the way, I couldn’t find any business-related GIFT reference. If you know what it means, please let me know!)

We like numbers. We understand numbers. We can easily remember three things. We can even remember 5 items or 7 items (note the length of your phone number). If there is a numbered list, that indicates that the topic is not open-ended. We can gain the closure we desire because we will come to the last item on the list. So, numbers are good.

Except when they aren’t.

I presume that the writer of the request for proposal had a very clear idea of what s/he wanted the leadership training to cover. S/he mistakenly assumed that any company that responded would know exactly what s/he meant.

I don’t- and my guess is that I’m not alone in my confusion.

If you are currently or will be writing a request for proposal for training, please at least add a name to the numbered item, such as Blanchard and Hersey’s three primary management styles, or Kurt Mortensen’s 5 C’s of trust. That will provide the clarification and direction we need.

Numbers alone aren’t enough.

May your learning be sweet.


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