Weather, Averages, and Assembly Lines

by | Nov 9, 2020 | Change |

averages

“We have no idea. Here’s what we know – if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes, it will likely change.”

One day I wish a weather presenter or app would say this. It seems more accurate than the generalisations we get.

We live in a bit of a valley, tucked away in the mid-Devon countryside. A place of beauty. However, weather apps don’t recognise our existence as not many live by us. So our weather predictions are based on the surrounding larger villages and towns. Most of whom are on the hills, not the valleys. And then, when you listen to any national or even Devon wide weather news, these villages and towns are averaged together. For our small hamlet, these weather broadcasts are relatively useless.

Averages tell us little. Ranges tell us more. And weather is impacted by many things, especially hills and valleys.

The same can be true of assessment data we collect in other areas of our lives. Most of us are not average, but we all contribute to the average. We do this all the time in humanitarian contexts. We collect heaps of data, then average it out, and make decisions based on averages. We’ve been trained to think this way. We’ve been told it’s efficient.

However, somehow in our ‘training’ we forgot the part that say crisis impact everyone differently. Just like hills and valleys impact the weather, so do many factors impact how families experience crises.

Averages can help us create rough plans, specifics and understanding ranges help us be more accurate. Giving everyone exactly the same helps us to create efficient assembly lines to deliver and report, but is often is extremely inefficient for the recipient.

Perhaps it’s time to change. The choice is up to us.

Photo by Panjinda

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