What Matters Won’t Measure
We very often fetishize measurement, without really understanding what it does for us.
In business schools and boardrooms alike, it is a mantra bordering on religious invocation that “what gets measured gets managed.” If we care about something, the act of measuring will ensure that it is attended to. Just as suggested in the Hawthorne Effect, the focusing of attention signals that something is important. Measure it, then, and that something should improve.
This prompts its own cautionary tale, though. If what we measure prompts change, then we have to be careful what we evaluate, so that attention is focused on those things that are most meaningful and important. As a consequence, we are exhorted to “measure what matters.” We should be crystal clear about our objectives and the changes that we want. The results that we then evaluate should directly and fully demonstrate attainment of those outcomes.
Inevitably, then, we become firmly entrenched in the world of “key performance indicators.” Not just indicators that provide some form of measurement about your organization. Not just performance indicators, indicating how your organization is doing against some significant dimension. These are the key performance indicators, those theoretically select few that once again matter most about how you, your team, your process, your
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