I was all kinds of excited to see the latest post from Joe Patti at ArtsHacker. The title alone triggers one of my biggest pet peeves: Yes, Data Driven Decision Making. But What Data Is Important?. It’s exactly the right question and at the core of a conference session I present on this very topic.
Seeing the reference to vanity data was especially nice.
The most valuable data for an organization is key performance indicators (KPIs). Most data points are diagnostic metrics which, while valuable, support KPIs rather than measure progress toward organizational goals. Vanity metrics make you look impressive, especially in front of your governing board, but are not really useful in measuring the success of the organization.
Vanity metrics tend to fall into the larger category of mostly useless information funders have annoying habits of asking for in grant applications. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a good bit of these metrics fall into the sort of thing a good data manager spends time pushing back against when dealing with HiPPOs (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion).