Since identifying trends is an important Eagle Eye skill which is instrumental in finding opportunities to elevate performance, I thought a few ideas on how to spot trends would be helpful:
- Start with metrics – It is near impossible to spot trends if you don’t review key metrics. What information is important to running your business or your functional area? Track progress.
- Look for peaks & valleys – I find it interesting that we can review a huge amount of metric data and create endless Power Points and yet we still miss trends. Reviewing a single point in time is largely useless. And getting lost in too much data is not helpful. Instead, put it in perspective: How does it relate to what has happened previously? Review the last several years, quarters, months or weeks side-by-side.
- Take out outliers – I also seem to sit in endless meetings were we get bogged down in outliers and non-essential details. Instead, take a step back and look at what the big picture is telling you and ignore the outliers.
- Calculations – If you spot a trend change, make sure the calculation process wasn’t changed. It’s easy to get carried away with trends that do not exist if the baseline data or the calculation method changes.
- Collaborate – When you spot a trend, ask related parties for their insights. Often, you can rapidly determine if it’s an outlier or a trend by simply asking experts.