Thursday, February 25, 2010

Managing Requires Measuring

Last week we talked about the importance of clearly communicating your expectations to those you are leading. We noted that one of the biggest challenges with this is that many leaders haven't gone through the rigor of defining the measurable results they want.

That provides a nice segue to talking about the next challenge - measuring. I have interacted with a lot of supervisors and managers over the years and measuring results is a consistent challenge. The obstacles are numerous:
  1. They aren't very disciplined people, so they are not very interested in measuring
  2. The systems available to them make measuring what's important a difficult task
  3. The results they are trying to measure are primarily subjective rather than objective things
  4. The process they are trying to measure is extremely complex
  5. They simply haven't put in the thinking time to identify what matters most (i.e. what deserves measuring).
Regardless of the obstacles, I continue to stress that old management adage - "You cannot manage what you do not measure." If you are not measuring then you are merely hoping for the right outcome not managing for it.

Here are just a few pointers:
  • Don't overdo it. Don't try to start measuring everything. Go through the rigor of deciding what matters most. Pick 2 or 3 to start. What has the biggest impact on your ability to generate the profit you want? Or, if you are a non-profit, what most impacts your ability to deliver on your mission?
  • Take a balanced approach, i.e. don't focus solely on financial measures. Measure things related to your customers/clients, your processes and the development of your people.
  • Use my modified KISS principle - Keep It Seriously Simple; don't make it complicated and if you don't already have technology in place, start manually.
What are the critical success factors for your organization? Whose input do you need in making that decision? What means of measurement are readily available? When will you start? More later.

Seize the day!

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