In a management meeting the other day, our CFO made an interesting observation. It was one of those things you hear people say in the flow of a meeting that is both searingly insightful and overwhelmingly straightforward, leading to the classic "well, why didn't I say that" moment. His simple observation, which quickly fell by the wayside of the overall conversation, resonated on two distinctly different but parallel planes. "You need to know what you're going to do with numbers before you pay to get them," he said.

Sounds simple doesn't it? The concept of having a defined business purpose for what you are going to build has been preached for so long that many of us who carry that message are getting hoarse. The mantra remains: build specific, measurable, politically meaningful solutions to life-threatening business pain. If you do, you will certainly know what you are going to do with the numbers that result from that effort.

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