Posted on | June 30, 2012 | No Comments
You get what you measure
What you measure is what you get
If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it
Tell me how I’m going to be measured and I’ll tell you how I’ll perform
You cannot improve what you can’t measure
Garbage in, garbage out
If you don’t measure it, it’s just a hobby
“These clichés are true,” according to Forrest Breyfoggle III in his book “The Integrated Enterprise Excellence System.”
Anyone who believes all of them to be true ignores an old lesson from some of the greatest scientists: just —just because you can obtain numbers from measuring does not mean the thing you think you are measuring actually exists. What then are you managing?
Unfortunately, many managers who believe these clichés measure and create all sorts of indicators without asking whether they indicate what they think they indicate. Often they do not.
The only one of the above clichés that even hints at that is “garbage in, garbage out”.
The real problem is not that you can’t manage if you can’t measure it. The problem is to strike the right balance between what should be measured, and what is unmeasurable or is best left to observation, contemplation, or intuition.
Once you have decided that something should be measured, the next problem is to figure out, first, whether you are measuring the thing you think you are measuring, and second, whether you are making reasonable inferences from your measurements.
History is full of stories of leaders accomplishing great feats without recourse to measurement. Can you imagine George Washington consulting his dashboard and evaluating his key performance indicators before deciding to cross the Delaware?
Didn’t think so.