Change Behavior. Change Results: Logging, Tracing and Monitoring
Old behavior = current results.
If you want better results, you must create better behaviors that are reinforced through routines, standards and benchmarks that you create for yourself. The correlation between behavior and results is undeniable and has been written about at length by others more educated than I. But there is also causation that can create unplanned obstacles that can derail best efforts. Often this is reflected in the slogans and phrases adapting the Marine’s mantra:
Let’s dive into each and see how they can affect outcomes.
CORRELATION VS CAUSATION
According to Khan Academy: Correlation means there is a relationship or pattern between the values of two variables. A scatterplot plots data using coordinates to display values for typically two variables for a set of data on an x/y axis. The displayed data about two variables as a set of points in the xy plane and is a useful tool for determining if there is a correlation between the variables.
Causation means that one event causes another event to occur. Causation can only be determined from an appropriately designed experiment. In such experiments, similar groups receive different treatments, and the outcomes of each group are studied. We can only conclude that a treatment causes an effect if the groups have noticeably different outcomes.
New behavior = review past errors
What does that have to do with changing behavior? If you are looking around and notice that you aren’t getting any traction but everyone else seems to be moving along. Causation and Correlation become tools to figure out why. One you know where your challenges lay (industry/market, economic, organizational: structural, organizational: management, client/local market, persona: beliefs/attitudinal) you can address them.
If you correlate your results with others within your trade AND hierarchy (electricians to plumbers OR GC to trade) you can see if your efforts are common among your peers (watch for confirmation bias on this one, where you look for evidence to support the outcome you want, ie “it’s not my fault” so you look for poorly performing electricians to make yourself feel better).
You can also look into causal events, like COVID or the lack of skilled labor, for why you can’t seem to get traction, reflecting on others in similar situations locally, you can compare your results to theirs.
The end result is trying to see if outside factors are causing or correlated with the sub par results. You are removing the emotion from the equation and thus able to look more closely at what will move you forward.
The mark of a successful individual is not that they never failed, it’s that they take failure, reflect on it and adapt. Seeing what went wrong and why. In replaying the steps that caused (genuinely without blustering about fault and things being “out of your control”) the result, good or bad, you can reflect on what components went wrong.
If in your reflection and causation/correlation exercise you see that the GC’s were moving into a digital prequalification platform, but you didn’t take the time to go through the prequalification process because you “didn’t have time” to learn and didn’t want to invest in the office staff who could have done the work, then you must look at how your behaviors of stubborn insistence and a lack of investment in your own company caused the lack of business.
Regardless of what the factors are, personal, industry or economic, there are ways of planning for them the next time. When a similar situation presents itself, you now know exactly what to do. Maybe you even proactively start looking for ways to ensure you don't end up in the same situation.
What’s best for you and your company depends on your goals, passions, strengths and weaknesses and how to match your goals with your company's dynamics to help determine your path. If you and your team are tight and you love the close knit team, which is why you get out of bed in the morning, creating a goal of tripling your staff may not be the best idea.
Logging (failure) + Tracing (reflection) + Metrics (monitoring)
= Observability (Progress)
Whether you’re dealing with company goals or personal goals, you need to know how cause and effect work. From a single personal goal to a company wide system; logging, tracing, and metrics monitoring are all ways to help ensure correctness in your system, to track what may have gone wrong when problems arise, and to improve the overall functionality.
Logging, tracing, and metrics monitoring aren’t different words for the same process, they have a separate function within the desired outcome pipeline, even when they overlap, each process provides different feedback to your process and, ideally, all are present as you setup your systems.
The purpose of logging is to track reporting data in a centralized way. Logging should be used in big applications and it can be put to use in apps, especially if they provide a crucial function, like hours on a job site.
Keep in mind that logging too much data can be distracting and a poor use of resources, your logs should be connected to your goals, outcomes and benchmarks. These generally are linked directly to job site performance. Indeed, transferring, storing and parsing logs is expensive, so minimizing what the log files contain can minimize cost and resources. Still, logging is king, especially when it comes to optimizing resources.
Where logging provides an overview to a discrete, event-triggered log, tracing encompasses a much wider, continuous view. The goal of tracing is to follow an issue’s flow and progression. As such, there is a lot more information at play; tracing can be a lot noisier of an activity than logging – and that’s intentional. If you see an issue over and over again on various sites, being able to track data back to a common source is effective and diagnosing and correcting issues.
Its purpose isn’t reactive, but instead focused on optimization. By tracing data, you can identify bottlenecks, compliance issues, management issues and focus on improving performance.
When a problem does occur, tracing allows you to see how you got there. This type of monitoring is diagnostic – for instance, alerting supers when a job site system isn’t working as it should.
In an ideal world where cost isn’t an issue, you could log, trace and monitor metrics on all of your sites, but I would suggest implementing this concept on your biggest at the least.
Monitoring systems are the best way to begin employing metrics. Such systems handle storage, aggregation, visualization, and even automated responses. These monitoring systems are surprisingly affordable, though they do rely heavily on data. With companies embracing cloud and data, the more data you have, the more beneficial monitoring can be.
Once you know what the issue is, a good sense of what caused it, it’s time to look at how you would like to address it within the context of your existing goals. If you’ve dug yourself into a hole, stop digging. Realize you have to fill in the hole first before you can build anything on top of it.
This often means rethinking, prioritizing and creating a new timeline based on your current outcomes. New benchmarks and adjusted timelines don’t mean that your goal must change, it just means that you need to rethink how you’ll get there and how long it may take.
When you are tracing/reflecting it is vital that you remain as analytical as possible. If you have identity failures you must address them or you will continue to climb up and slide down the same hill.
Remember: Logging (failure) + Tracing (reflection) + Optimization (monitoring) = Progress.
If you would like to start integrating technology into your job sites contact us, we can connect you with the people that can help move you forward.