Looking beyond the numbers

Engineers don’t change the world with formulas alone.

A business doesn’t match the spreadsheet for profit and loss just because they were written down.

The costs don’t add up to the price paid.

There are so many places where we use numbers to determine that we are on the right track and heading in the right direction, but it doesn’t mean that reality will match what we extrapolate it should. An engineer can create a clean energy generator that lowers emissions and achieves climate change targets to avert catastrophe, it doesn’t mean that it will be adopted at the correct pace. A business owner can make a spreadsheet projecting 50 sales call a day, with a 2% success rate, and a $1,000 average sale price, and an average sales staff salary of $60,000 and every single one of those numbers could be wrong. It doesn’t magically happen because he says it should be that way. On the other end of the spectrum, just because the materials cost $10, doesn’t mean a product is only worth that especially where skill, specialized equipment, and scarcity are involved.

The numbers are only a tool. Something to give our intuition a reason to latch onto. It’s a tool to make sure that if everything goes right we won’t still fail, such as charging too little money and making each transaction a loss. However, the magic is in the action. The understanding of the customer, the understanding of the value, the training of the employee, or the magic and value crafted through a sharply honed skill.

Looking beyond the numbers is always a key aspect of any endeavor.