We are preoccupied by our data for last month, last quarter and last year. We are chastised for underperforming and berated for coming last. But surely the only purpose for looking back should be to move forward and plan with greater accuracy?

We spend much of our time and energy in the public sector looking at by-gone data with an ‘isn’t that interesting!’ eye and too little time debating ‘what does this mean for tomorrow’ eye.

I’m a planner, a forward looker, a horizon scanner. My interest in yesterday’s data is fleeting and cursory, unless you can show me what it means for tomorrow.

My thoughts? Let’s do less looking back to shame others and more looking back to inform how we can create a safer, healthier, cleaner, brighter future.

My advice for leaders, managers and data-purveyors everywhere?

1 – ensure the measures of success we choose and the data we use to evidence them can inform activities to make us better

2 – ditch data unless it can inform our activities for the future. Data takes resources, effort and time to collect, so let it be the right data.

3 – share data (safely) to influence global improvements. A COVID vaccine developed anywhere has the potential to benefit us everywhere.

Let’s view the past with a forward looking eye!