Inside the Barrel

Don't Be Seduced By Metrics

Don't Be Seduced By Metrics

Good business leaders understand the importance of establishing key metrics to measure effectiveness and efficiency of delivery against organizational goals and initiatives. Key word here "metrics" as opposed to "metric", singular. There are some obvious ones such as: revenue, customer satisfaction, quality, etc. Similarly, in order to develop and sustain a successful organization, it is critical not to just consistently monitor, but to act on changes in business performance indicated by the metrics - the real value of measurement being its impact on how we act on what we know - using experience, knowledge, and judgment to gain insight. Some considerations for measurements:

  • Milestones - Did we complete a specific activity when it was expected?
  • Quantity - How many do we have, and how many do we need?
  • Financial - What is the value? Are we in-line with budget or industry standards?
  • Compliance - Are we meeting expectations of policies, contracts, licenses, and regulations?
  • Quality - Is the customer being delivered to as agreed?
  • Efficiency - Is our time and effort being well used?

Leadership Insight

I remember a few years back (ok, a decade) I had been driving furiously toward a deadline to deliver a technical support site for employees. It was a rush and a thrill - and, on time, within budget. The night before the "go-live" of the site, my leader, oh by the way a Six Sigma Master Black Belt, with a Juris Doctorate thrown in just for fun, extremely customer oriented and analytical asked me "How will you know you're successful?" I, of course, had the answer ready at hand and immediately espoused "When we've decreased support calls by 80%, employee satisfaction ratings on tools and resources have increased, and employee engagement within IT increases!" It was a beautiful vision. Until he said "How about you start with going live as your first measure of success?" Whomp. Oh. Right. Do it first - a milestone. Then go for the lofty goals that let you know you're successful. The more eloquent, yet subtle, message, as put by a favorite mentor was: "Don't get seduced by metrics."

Written byKelly M. Lowe