There are quite a few nifty quotes about measurement, management, improvement, and action. Here are a few I appreciate (notice the contradictions):
- “What gets measured gets improved.” – Peter Drucker1
- “It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth.” – W. Edwards Deming2
- Be critical of measuring only “what is measurable, rather than what really matters.” – Robert Sternberg3
- “Just because you can, does not mean you should.” – Jesus4
I’ve attended hundreds of Management Review meetings, All-Hands Meetings and Town Halls throughout my career. Based upon those, one might think that the only things that matter are profit and speed to market (for new products). Those are certainly important, but they are not enough. Safety, quality, and compliance matter. Customer opinions matter. Employee behaviors matter. Leadership matters.
When I am invited to help an organization improve, I begin by asking what the mission of the company is and why. I’ll often hear answers like “be the best provider of our xxx in the world”, “improve the lives of our customers”, or “ensure patient safety”. My next ask is: “Please show me how well you are doing at achieving that.” The crickets start chirping. When I shift to asking why the company must improve, I often hear a bunch of complaints about things that have not been measured but should have been…. or should not have been measured but were.
I believe anything that matters can be measured. Even the most subjective things in the world can be assessed using some type of measure. In fact, risk-based decision-making is a preferred management method today and risk assessment is much more subjective than most professionals I’ve encountered realize.
The right types of performance measures, or ‘key performance indicators’ (KPI’s), can help to identify and bridge gaps between what matters, what is happening, and what is aspired to. Key measures can unlock the potential for an organization to move confidently toward achieving its mission by taking data-driven actions.
There are right and wrong approaches for using measures to achieve performance improvement. Knowing the difference requires some book-learning, but mostly the wisdom of broad and deep experience.
Want more information about KPI’s to unlock your organization’s potential? EMMA International can help! Contact us via our website, by phone at 248-987-4497, or by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 “Quality Quotes: ASQ features a different take on the world of quality”; ©2022 American Society for Quality, accessed 08/31/2022 from: https://asq.org/quality-resources/more-on-quality-quotes
2 “Myth: If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Manage It”, August 13, 2015 Comments, ©2022 The Deming Institute, accessed 08/31/2022 from: https://deming.org/myth-if-you-cant-measure-it-you-cant-manage-it/
3 “What Can’t Be Measured”, by Larry Prusak, October 07, 2010, Harvard Business Review, Decision Making and Problem Solving, ©2022 Harvard Business School Publishing; accessed on 08/31/2022 from: https://hbr.org/2010/10/what-cant-be-measured
4 “Just Because You Can, Does Not Mean You Should: 1 Corinthians 10:23-24″, by Dr. Paul Adams, Word@Work: ©Dr. Paul Adams and ©Copyright BeaconLight Trust, accessed 08/31/2022 from: https://www.wordatwork.org.uk/1-corinthians/just-because-you-can-does-not-mean-you-should