In the past year, I had the good fortune of watching an interview with Melinda Gates. WOW!!! The title of this blog is her and Bill’s mantra, and it’s what drives the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Melinda, who refers to herself as an introvert, is making an enormous impact worldwide. (By the way, she grew up in a strong, faith-based middle class home in Dallas, attended an all-girls Catholic high school, and then went to Duke and received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and an MBA.) She left Duke to join Microsoft, where she was leading a large team, but elected to leave after 10 years to be home with the couple’s three children. She was very refreshing to listen to.
In addition to caring for the children, she runs the foundation, which employs 1,400 people. Another Wow. What they do all over the world is amazing, and I’m sure overseeing such a large enterprise creates a lot of pressure and stress. However, if I were her, my biggest stress would be caused by the responsibility of appropriately utilizing Warren Buffet’s fortune, most of which has been pledged to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. That’s a Wow, Wow, Wow.
I’m sorry, I just needed to get her story out there.
So now to the business idea. When Melinda and Bill got involved with various causes, she said they were surprised to find out that very little accurate data — or even the measurement of important issues — was available. She then went on to recite a list of the data that she receives regularly and uses to determine the impact of their philanthropic investment; one example is that she gets a monthly report on the status of polio outbreaks around the world (one of Bill’s passions is to eradicate polio from the earth).
As I was listening to her, I thought of many companies whose leaders make decisions without good data. Money is spent based on anecdotal information, personal opinions, what a couple of customers said, and a myriad of other subjective sources.
If Melinda can get data on polio from some remote African village, I’m sure companies can retrieve useful data. It’s not easy, but it is possible.
Are you collecting the key data and metrics that will enable you to give your clients/customers what they “really” want, and then providing it in a profitable way?