What get’s measured get’s important

fouri_155_fitbitI know I’m late to the “FitBit Party” but having got one at Christmas I’m intrigued by how addictive it’s become – I check my steps every hour at least and sometimes more frequently.

And here’s the thing, I already had a reasonable exercise schedule with typically three gym sessions with a PT each week plus my preference is to walk whenever/wherever possible but now, to quote the book title from one of our top speakers, Pete Wilkinson, I’m “Unstoppable”.

W. Edwards Deming famous quote: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is actually a misquote, well he did say it but it’s been abbreviated, what he actually said was: “It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth” which puts quite a different spin on it don’t you think? And whilst Deming and I do believe in measuring the important, it’s not always possible and there’s an unintended consequence of measurement which is that the thing(s) being measured become important regardless of whether they are or not.

In many businesses I notice that some individuals have 10 or more “KPI’s” and these are aggregated to an even higher number for the office and still more for the company as a whole. And this practice is actually counterproductive as all 10 or more KPI’s can appear equally “key” and “important”. Instead, to quote Stephen Covey, “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”.

Can I suggest that you have for yourself, and for every member of your team, a “main thing”? This will be different for each person and might change from quarter to quarter, (rarely should the “main thing” change more frequently), and that each person knows what it is and the goal and the measurement. Sure there will be other things to check on but these shouldn’t be at the price of distracting away from the “main thing”. I mean, do I really need to check how many steps have I done so far today?

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