Our struggles with performance measurement are caused by bad habits we don’t know we have!
All around the world executives, managers, strategy or performance professionals, and analysts find it a mysterious struggle to measure business performance meaningfully. They struggle to:
- easily find meaningful, results-oriented measures
- get true buy-in to performance measurement
- strongly align measures to strategy
- measure those seemingly-immeasurable intangible goals
- report measures to make the right actions obvious
- use measures to drive improvement and reach targets
These struggles are due to some bad habits that, in the absence of a proper performance measurement methodology, have become common practice:
- brainstorming KPIs and measures, or looking for off-the-shelf or ‘best practice’ measures
- ‘consulting‘ people in developing measures
- measuring activity rather than results (and using milestones rather than true measures of performance)
- writing objectives and goals with vague, weasely words like effective, efficient, sustainable, reliable, quality, and so on
- filling reports with daft gauges and dials, gaudy and complex graphs, and stupifying tables and commentary
- interpreting performance by comparing this month to last month
These habits are common practice, but that doesn’t mean they’re good practice.
To stop the struggling and get better performance measures that lead to greater performance improvement, we obviously have to do something different. Doing what we’ve always done – those bad habits in particular – means we can only get the same results, and continue with the same struggles.
This was my experience in my early years as Measurement Consultant with Queensland Rail, back in the mid 1990s. There was an absence of a proper performance measurement methodology to help me. So I created one. What emerged and evolved is PuMP®.
The PuMP® Performance Measure Blueprint is a framework to redesign your performance measurement process.
Each of these eight steps in PuMP deal head-on with the struggles we have to measure performance. These steps replace the bad habits that cause the struggles with much easier, faster and more engaging techniques.
STEP 1: Understanding Measurement’s Purpose
Fixing the focus firmly on continuous improvement as the purpose for measurement. The PuMP Blueprint begins with using a self-assessment tool called the PuMP Diagnostic, which helps the team understand what good measurement means and how to do it properly, avoiding the most common struggles and problems.
STEP 2: Mapping Measurable Results
Translating our strategy into clear, focused and measurable performance results. In Step 2, the Measures Team explores why it’s so hard to measure the right things; how to find out whether their strategy (i.e., goals or objectives) is measurable enough; and how the two templates called PuMP Measurability Tests and PuMP Results Map can make the team’s goals or objectives clear, specific, and easily measurable.
STEP 3: Designing Meaningful Measures
Choosing the most feasible and relevant measures that evidence our performance results. In Step 3, the Measures Team learns to recognise the traditional approaches that people take to selecting measures and why those approaches fail. They then use the PuMP Measure Design template to design measures that evidence their goals and that are meaningful, relevant, cost effective, and will make it easy for people to buy in.
STEP 4: Building Buy-in to Measures
Getting ownership from our stakeholders, quickly, easily and engagingly. To avoid the risk of their colleagues and managers not buying in to performance measures they create, the Measures Team uses the PuMP Measure Gallery technique to build buy-in and generate excitement, both for performance measurement in general and for their new measures in particular.
STEP 5: Implementing Measures
Documenting in detail the data, analysis and reporting requirements for each of our measures. In this step, the Measures Team learns why so many measures are never successfully brought to life (i.e., never reported or used). They use the PuMP Measure Definition technique to detail exactly how each of their measures should be implemented, and they begin the documentation of a Corporate Performance Measure Dictionary.
STEP 6: Interpreting Signals from Measures
Focusing ourselves on gaps between as-is and should-be performance. In this step, the Measures Team discovers why it’s so easy to misinterpret performance measure signals and how, frighteningly, most people do misinterpret them. The team then follows the PuMP Interpreting Measures technique to make the true signals of change in their performance measures easier to see, statistically valid, and incredibly useful for producing insight.
STEP 7: Reporting Performance Measures
Creating useful and usable performance reports that inspire us to action. In Step 6, the Measures Team learns why typical performance reports are next to useless even when these reports employ the latest and greatest dashboard dials, gauges, and graphs. They use the PuMP Report Design technique to quickly and easily produce performance reports that answer the three most important questions that every performance report should answer, laid out in the most digestible way to support decision making.
STEP 8: Reaching Performance Targets
Improving our business processes to move as-is performance toward should-be. The role of performance measures is to facilitate quick, easy and economical performance improvement. The PuMP Using Measures technique enables the performance team to make substantial improvements, moving performance closer to meaningful targets.
What specifically will PuMP change for you?
The results of using PuMP as your performance measurement approach are that you will:
- make your strategy measurable and easier to communicate and cascade
- select and design performance measures that are far more meaningful than brainstorming or benchmarking ever can produce
- get buy-in from staff and stakeholders to enthusiastically own performance measurement and improvement
- bring your measures to life in a consistent way, using the right data and with the right ownership
- design insightful and actionable reports and dashboards that focus discussion on improvement
- clearly see the real signals from your measures about whether performance is improving or not
- convincingly hit your performance targets, and make measurement about transformation, not about blame or covering your bum!
Learn PuMP now, and end your performance measurement struggles…
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