It was 6:30 PM, I was on my way home and saw the tire pressure diagnostic come on. It's a funny graphic...four tire-like images, three green, one red...indicating that my right front tire pressure was going down...24...18...12...10...

I kept hoping it was just a fluke, an error, but the worst was confirmed when I heard the thud, thud, thud of the rubber giving way to a puddling mess, the metal of the wheel starting to make contact with pavement. 

I pulled off the main route in town into an area next to the local post office. I was hungry and tired. Called my husband. He suggested the obvious, call roadside assistance. After rummaging through the glove box I finally unearthed the pamphlet, found the number and called. I gave my location to someone who probably works at a call center in Nebraska. And then I sat. 

They always tell you that a local service will get back to you immediately; in this experience, "immediately" meant 15 or 20 minutes before the service guy even called. 

"Where are you located?" he asked. As I explained where, it was pretty clear by his reaction that he was foggy about it, though it is a landmark in our town. "Where are YOU located?" I asked him. Turns out, he was four or five towns away.  "So, are you the closest truck?" I asked. And without awaiting reply, I commented, "It's going to take you an hour!" He was still real nice. Just assured me he would be there pretty quickly. 

As it turns out he made it in less than 30 minutes. He couldn't have been more pleasant. I was glad I hadn't embarrassed myself any more than being a little impatient on the phone. He put the spare on in about 47 seconds, and I was on my way home to a nice fire and a home-cooked meal.

So why did I predict the worst?

My expectations were low, based on several previous experiences. I had waited almost two hours in a parking lot the last time I had a flat; another time, I'd waited nearly three hours on a snowy, icy Christmas Eve. The guy never showed up; my husband rescued me.

I was reminded that what happens in the past is not necessarily useful in predicting the future. Those "data points" are not that relevant. I wasn't looking at THIS guy's response time. Instead, I had only examined random past experiences.

The other day we were working with a team on how to evaluate performance. They had lots of metrics available to them. But most of the data they were reviewing routinely was either historical, lagging indicators of things that had already happened, or, it didn't really tell you much about the goals and changes they were trying to drive.

To promote productive conversation and good decision making, you have to be analyzing a meaningful dashboard that is representative of the gap between your current and future state. Had I had the information on this particular service guy's response time, I would have had a different attitude. It would be worth it for your team to take that step now; while we are still near the beginning of the year, evaluate whether you are discussing the right data. You can't predict a flat tire,  but you can have better information available to you when you get one

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