Are You Measuring for Success or Just Measuring?

It has been a while since I sat down and discussed this issue, and based upon a conversation I had with one of our ministers at church yesterday this seems like a good time to put it on the table again.  Is your organization measuring for success or just measuring?  For that matter are you measuring anything?  Before you answer the question, let’s discuss what the differences are.

Are you measuring?

Let’s start with the easy one: do you measure anything?  If you do not measure and report the results of anything in your organization, how do you know if you are getting better or worse?  Are you stuck on a plateau; well how would you know if you aren’t measuring anything?  Organizations that do not measure anything often times don’t know they have a problem until it’s too late.  They’re out of money, out of ideas, or worse; out of business.

Many businesses will tell you that they do indeed measure the top line and bottom line, yet they make one critical mistake.  They fail to report out to the organization the results.  If you are not reporting results to your organization (employees, stakeholders, members, etc.), then you really are not measuring; you are merely capturing data.

Strategically or Just Measuring

Do you measure things in your organization?  Simple question; at least it should be.  If so, what do you measure?  Everything?  Just top line and/or bottom line?  Many organizations do indeed measure.  Some measure the bare bone basics; top line and bottom line.  Others measure multiple things at multiple levels.  And some measure everything.  In each scenario the results may be posted for everyone to see, or may be reported to management at various levels.  The intent in this is to take action when the results “are bad.”  The problem all too many organizations face is knowing when something is bad. Or maybe I should say too many organizations assume that something is bad.

The challenge is to measure the things your organization truly values in a strategic manner.  Your employees, members, etc. who see these metrics must:  A) understand what you are measuring; B) understand why you are measuring them; and C) the measurements must have meaning to the employee, member, etc.  If you are not measuring the things you value in such a way that your employees “get it”, you are missing a huge opportunity.  An opportunity for growth, improved productivity, profits, and employee (member for non-profit service organizations) buy-in.

For those organizations that measure everything, what are you gaining from this effort?  Chances are not much.  You are spending a lot of time and effort and chances are you are not “moving the yardstick” very far.  Just ask a cross-section of your employees and see if they understand all those metrics plastered on the wall.

The Circle of Success

The one big thing I’ve learned through this journey is the impact the Circle of Success has on an organization.  If you are not familiar with this concept, let me restate it here:

You measure what you value.  Measures directly influence how people work. How people work affects the organizational results.  And in return, the way the organization acts has a profound impact on what we value.  In other words: We measure what we value.  What we measure influences behavior, and in turn behavior affects action.  And finally our actions impact what we value.

Chris Anselmo and I discussed this in some depth in our meetings documented in the book The Right Measures.  If you want to know more, just read the book or call Pinnacle Partners West (Mark and Sheila have been greatly instrumental in my growth understanding organizational values and metrics).

So now I return to the original question.  Are you measuring for success, or just measuring?


About narvelltmann

Currently working first job out of college as a cost analyst for M.E. Burdette Co.
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