Data creating leaders who follow.

Look at any growing organization today, and you’ll find a high likelihood that they are tracking data that wasn’t possible to track 10-20 years ago. They are looking at how much people like the words on their website, how long they stayed, what they clicked on, and figuring out where their customers are leaving the sales funnel instead of making their purchase.

This is good in some regards, and a failure in many others. It’s good for the economy. It allows companies to edit, adjust, and reap financial benefits.

It’s a failure in ways because it is creating leaders who follow, measuring popular vs. unpopular opinions. We see politicians not holding their own beliefs strongly about what is right and where the country should go, instead looking to the data of what’s popular.

When America launched the idea of putting a man on the moon, we never could have measured that from social media if that was around at the time. People weren’t thinking about it.

I encourage you to watch the speech about it if it’s been a while:

We don’t seem to have leaders like this anymore. Perhaps society is different. Perhaps our politics has changed, however, one thing that has changed is the way campaigns are done. The goal is to win rather than measure. At one time, most of our leaders gave speeches and professed their beliefs against each other, then the population voted on which most aligned with them.

Now, campaigns measure. Measure the existing sentiment, and adjust our campaign to reflect that to make us popular. This is a societal feedback loop. If the country is leaning one way, the politician gets up there and tells society how he agrees, instead of saying his true feeling and why he feels that way, which may possibly sway society back towards the middle. By having leaders who follow, we’re radicalizing ourselves and social media amplifies this radicalization.

The goal of a political campaign should not be to win, it should be to make the campaigners beliefs clear against challengers, and educate the voters as to why they may benefit to believing or voting a certain way. A loss means your country didn’t fully align with those beliefs, but putting those out there may change the country for the better, even in the event of a defeat.

Data doesn’t create leaders, convictions do. Data creates followers, and that’s never who we want leading a nation.