Time vs. Accuracy

Today, my Operations Management professor gave another one sentence lesson about life and work. He told us:

“It is better to be late and correct, than to be on time and wrong.”

In the business world, your boss won’t remember if you’ve missed the deadline if you get the most accurate results because your work has positively effected the company either way. People will remember if you provide wrong/inaccurate information, even if it’s on time. For example, if you’re trying to collect data and forecast sales in the future, it is more beneficial if a good amount of time is taken to generate the best forecast than to try and utilize a poorly researched sales forecast right now. Before my OM professor became a professor, he worked in the military and he asked his superior, “Would you rather have me give you crappy, wrong results now? Or have correct results later?”

However, this idea does not work in every situation. When correct and accurate results are very important for the future of the company (the actions the company plans to take are based upon these particular results/information), then it is crucial that the information used is as accurate as possible. You also have to take into consideration the costs/benefits of taking a longer time to generate the results. On one hand, taking a long time may slow down the process of launching a product – thus missing an opportunity – but on the other hand, you may produce better results that will help better guide you in the process. It will all depend on what is more important to the organization, time or accuracy.

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