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Fake News

14 April 2017

There’s nothing so unreliable as a management report. This isn't the fault of management or of this or that manager; it's an inherent feature of the tool set that management reporting has to offer.

If anyone wanting assurance fancies a good dose of reality then they could do a lot worse than to simply go and have a good look-see.

Ironically, management reports themselves rarely ever provide the prompt to do so.

Filled with measures that describe performance against an organisation’s current preoccupations, they often contain no challenge to whether those are the right or best preoccupations and can fall foul of a felt pressure to be seen to be delivering what's expected. 

It often goes a little like this… 

In short, a profound disconnect between performance as expected by the organisation, performance as reported through its governance and performance as experienced by its customers.

Perhaps because of this, most organisations rely on a healthy dose of data (mainly numbers).

Numbers are often considered a way to access an objective reality, beyond what’s being reported by this or that manager or department.

But in The Tiger That Isn’t - Seeing Through A World of Numbers, Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot tell us that there is a profound difference between counting and counting something.

“Numbers, pure and precise in abstract, lose precision in the real world. It is as if they are two different substances. In maths they seem hard, pristine and bright, neatly defined around the edges. In life we do better to think of something murkier and softer… Too often counting becomes an exercise in suppressing life’s imprecision.”

So the world, seen through a world of numbers, is not really the world at all. Governance and assurance mechanisms that rely on the fake news that they provide are in danger of taking false reassurance from a faulty test, which is not really so reassuring, is it?

The good news is that it’s not difficult for organisations to do a lot better.

This starts with learning how to look past the numbers, not just through them. That doesn’t mean abandoning numbers, of course, but augmenting the partial view that they can give with other ways of “knowing reality”.

The upshot is a richer understanding of what’s really driving your performance, enabling better decision making and greater control.

At Easier Inc. we have developed three simple management routines that can help you to do this. We’ve encapsulated them in what we call “The Confirmation Canvas”; a straight-forward and easy to use tool that prompts searching questions and better conversations about performance.

Watch our video about how the canvas works (below) or find out more about the detail of the management routines it contains by contacting our experts at


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