Averages hide the extremes

Averages hide the extremes

I can't remember where I first heard it, but "averages hide the extremes" can be a really useful guide when thinking about how you manage data. Here's a nice illustration from one of my clients:

As they looked at their event registration they saw an average of 100 registrations per month over the course of six months. But a closer look showed that the first month of registration and the last month of registration was where the bulk of those registrations came in. In fact, if they removed the first and last month, the average number of registrations per month was actually more like 50.

The same also happens frequently with membership joins and renewals, certification, and other types of sales.

What this means is averages can be misleading. Basing a decision (e.g., staffing, technology, business processes) on the average number of transactions may lead to some choices that won't serve you well. So be sure to dig deeper when discussing averages.

And on a related note: Using the extremes (rather than the averages) can also be misleading because "extremes" is just another word for exceptions.

Wes's Wednesday Wisdom Archives

Take a moment to be grateful

March 7, 2019

Because we’re so focused on always improving what we have now, it’s easy to overlook […]

KPIs and Dashboards

February 28, 2019

I saw DJ Muller from MemberClicks speak on KPIs (key performance indicators). In his session […]

Documenting Process is Critical

February 22, 2019

When it comes to managing data successfully, process is critical. For example, a client of […]

Motion vs. Action

February 14, 2019

In James Clear’s book Atomic Habits (I recommend it!), he discusses the concept of motion vs. action. […]

Are You Answering Your Calls?

February 7, 2019

I’ve written about this before, but apparently I have to keep repeating it. If you’ve […]

Who do you trust?

January 31, 2019

Who Do You Trust I was reading an article recently about Warren Buffet’s “rules” for […]

Set benchmarks to measure progress

January 24, 2019

It’s impossible to measure progress if you don’t know your starting point. This sounds axiomatic, […]

You’ll make incorrect decisions. Acknowledge them and fix it.

January 17, 2019

A client of mine recently wrote the following to me: “It’s so hard to set […]

"Experience is unobservable to everyone except the person who it happens to."

January 10, 2019

In Dan Gilbert’s book Stumbling on Happiness, he writes: “Experience is unobservable to everyone except […]

Know Your Audience Before You Speak

December 20, 2018

This one may seem obvious, but when you’re speaking to anyone, whether it’s one person, […]

Scroll to Top