It's better to be Roughly Right
than precisely wrong
There is an enlightening story about Malcolm Forbes, son of the founder of the business magazine Forbes, which we at Roughly Right are particularly fond of. A tale of wisdom versus accuracy.
One day, Malcolm gets lost when flying his hot air balloon. Finally able to land, he finds himself in a cornfield in the middle of nowhere. He sees a man approaching and asks him: "Sir, can you tell me where I am?". The man replies: "Sure, you're standing in a basket in a cornfield". "You must be a statistician", Forbes muses. Astonished, the man says: "Amazing, how did you know that?". "It's simple really", Forbes responds, "your information is concise, accurate and completely useless."
Roughly Right is a tool for obtaining useful, actionable and comprehensible information rather than a data set that few people know how to interpret. Roughly Right provides a profile of your business's financial wellbeing in a way that anyone can understand. Based on the time you spend creating what you create, your employees' degree of involvement in the projects and your finance, this map becomes a valuable asset when all of you look at it together. And because it is so simple and easy to understand, everyone in your organization will want to chip in. It turns everyone into an engaged stakeholder.
We believe that overconfidence in data risks leading to mistakes before anyone has time to notice it. That the blind trust in the accuracy of numbers creates a false sense of security that makes people stop using their judgment and taking responsibility.
Data is essential, of course. But equally important is to regularly put that index finger in the air to get a sense of the wind's direction - and act accordingly in time when the wind shifts. To read the winds regularly has been our guiding thread from day one. With that and your with the reality of your business in mind, we will continue to develop Roughly Right. The determination of your company's wellbeing should be creative and straightforward enough for you to make wise decisions with ease - rather than blind ones.
And what about our name, where does it come from? Well, we have borrowed it from the expression, "It's better to be Roughly Right rather than precisely wrong". Often attributed to John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), the quote is so good that it is easy to take for granted that this brilliant economist and philosopher is its originator. But in fact, it was the philosopher Carveth Read (1848–1931) who coined the term. Its meaning is obviously no less wise because of that.
Our philosophy is that roughly right information engages humans and helps us ask the right questions in order to make wiser decisions than the blind trust in data does. We believe that the human component is a superpower that will keep your business stay on the right course, no matter how the winds change.
/the Roughly Right-team