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Close Counts

February 25, 2020

A few weeks ago, I attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., and as I was leaving the event, I ran into my friend Evan.

We stood and caught up for a few minutes when the president of Hobby Lobby, Steve Green, and his wife Jackie recognized my friend and came by to say hello. At this point, I was no longer a part of this conversation, but I wanted to be. So I stuck around (somewhat awkwardly) and listened in. 

As they were talking, Evan recounted his recent experience of visiting the Hobby Lobby headquarters and said that one of the things that struck him most was a huge sign in the facility that reads: “Close Counts.” Happy to elaborate more on the meaning of the message, Steve said that his dad, David Green, originally made this sign when he heard about an internal plan to implement a point of sale system. (Side note: This is crazy that they didn’t already have one in place!) Steve’s dad, David—the founder of Hobby Lobby—quickly stopped the campaign and worked to emphasize his philosophy of going with your gut. 

David believes that important business decisions can often be made by trusting your instincts. Apparently, David still roams Hobby Lobby’s “store 101” with an assistant and simply looks at the different displays and indicates where items should go on each shelf. He uses his eye and makes these decisions all by gut!

It’s not that David Green believes point of sale systems are inherently bad, but he believes that too much data is bad for business.

Make sure you read this clearly: Data itself is not bad for business. Data helps us make good decisions, follow trends, and anticipate needs for our companies. But too much data is bad for business. 

So think about it like this.

Data tells you what’s selling. Your gut tells you how to sell it more effectively.

Data exposes market trends. Your gut tells you how to respond to these trends.

Data reveals who is walking in the door. Your gut tells you how to serve them best.

With advancements in technology, data is more accessible than ever before.

But an over-reliance on data can cripple your ability to differentiate and innovate.

This concept of close counts reminds me of a blog I wrote a couple of years ago on insights vs. instincts

On their own, both insights and instincts can be helpful, but it’s insights coupled with instincts that lead to innovation that can change the world.

In the same way, data coupled with gut-feeling will help you most effectively serve your customers, engage your employees, and make wise decisions for your organization.


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