“What gets measured, gets improved.” — Peter Drucker
The proof is so simple to see, in every facet of life, but few managers seems to employ the simplest of effective measurements well at work.
It is easy to see in normal life. If you start writing down your calories, before you start the meal, you will eat less, snack less, and eat better. If you start writing down the days that you do aerobic exercise on a highly visible calendar, you will work out more often. If you start measuring how often your daughter tries to score and shoots “on goal” in soccer, she will soon enough start shooting more often. If you take the effort to write down every time you catch yourself complaining, you will soon complain less. It works everywhere. If you want change, find a good way to measure it, a way that contributes to better daily decision making.
Fast forward to the highly-sophisticated workplace and we, all too often, find KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) on people’s computer dashboards that they can do little about on a daily basis. If you are in sales, and the KPI you are looking at is exceeding your annual budget, it is hard to change what you are doing today. Sales only happen a few times per year, and your progress toward the $5M target doesn’t move often. On the other hand, if the company starts to measure something far more tangible, such as emails sent to your customers and prospects, or number of meetings and calls with customers, the measurement is something that you can do something about every single day.
I believe most companies are setting MBO (Management By Objectives) goals that are far too removed from a person’s daily work life decisions. When you measure the things that are truly within a person’s immediate circle of control, you will always get meaningful results.
Failure to change is a recipe for failure. An optimist embraces change, and uses the simple technique of measuring the right things to make it happen.