5 Features of Futuristic Performance Measurement

by Stacey Barr |

Not much has changed over the past 20 years, since the Balanced Scorecard threw a big spotlight on performance measurement. People still don’t measure performance well enough, despite all the helpful frameworks that have come into being. Personally, I’ve noticed that people still have the same old struggles in measuring what matters. What should we really be aiming for in performance measurement, anyway?

Here are some of my ideas about what the future of performance measurement could (and should) look like:

Feature #1. Measures align to processes, not organisational hierarchy and not people or roles.

We will all appreciate that measures are most powerful when they help us work ON our businesses and organisations, not IN them.

Feature #2. The person with the most passion for a performance result, not the most power, is the owner of that result’s measures.

Tapping into what we each feel passionate about, or driven to take action on, is the way to energise and fuel change. We measure performance to change things for the better – and usually to change the most important things.

So measurement needs our honest and purest energy.

Feature #3. Measures are chosen when they are needed and archived when they are no longer needed; they are not locked into a predefined period of time.

Performance challenges and priorities don’t happen all at the same time, and they don’t all take the same amount of time to fix. They are not always predictable in the amount of resource needed to fix them either.

So it makes little sense to chain measures to financial or calendar years or strategic planning cycles.

Feature #4. Everyone knows when measures are needed and has the skill to design them in conversation (definitely NOT brainstorming).

Great measures are evidence of how well we’re acheiving meaningful performance results. Our future selves need to be very keen and quick at thinking in evidence-based ways to design our performance measures, as and when we need them.

Feature #5. People use measures for self-quantification, to help them pursue their own personal life and work goals, not to play rank-and-yank.

Rather than chasing carrots for motivation to turn up at work each day, people will enjoy the intrinsic reward of having the experiences they value and fulfilling the dreams they hold dear.

Measures will be personal tools we use for continual feedback to tweak our experience of life.


What do YOU think the future of performance measurement will or must look, sound and feel like?

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  1. Pål Navestad says:

    Hi Stacey, ideas are good. We see a paradox with measuring processes. When measuring a processes assuming the right measure is used there is a still a hierachical element to the follow-up. Very often one department gets the blame, very seldom the honor, for the process measurement. Very hard to get good interdepartment ownership to a goal for the whole process. Can You comment on this in Your blog or point to comapnies that seems to have this mastered,

  2. Jay Mershon says:

    Dear Stacey,

    Great blog…again. I felt like I hit a home run (guess you know I am from the United States with that metaphor) after I read Feature #1. I have been toying with a Results-Oriented Business Plan model that incorporates a lot of what our current thought leaders (and you are at the top) suggest goes into a business plan (interchangeable with strategic plan). The one area that I thought was left out was Process. For my model a Communicated Strategy includes, Key Results Areas, Performance Results, Key Processes, Performance Measures, Performance Targets and Improvement Initiatives.

    The inclusion of Key Processes after Performance Results intent is to get buy-in early by aligning Key Processes with Performance Results (acknowledging that more than one process might touch the Performance Result, usually one process has a higher degree of participation). I also ensure the owner of the process is identified. Agreeing with the late Michael Hammer, I believe all work occurs in a process – documented or ad hoc, and I like to say, that’s the owners choice (perhaps a bit facetiously).

    Understanding what Key Processes are involved requires the organization to ensure those processes are informed before implementation, in a sense developing a shared vision now versus later, getting a win before implementing. That requires a discussion down stream, bringing process owners and their teams into the discussion. Who better understands the nature of the work and impact of having to implement poorly thought out initiatives.

    This step forces the plan developers to make ask some fundamental questions during plan development: Do I need to re-engineer the process? Do I need to engineer a new process? Is the process resourced at the level we anticipate? Do we have the skills and abilities?

    Other benefits: this discussion early will also produce a larger degree of buy-in when identifying Performance Measures; people in the organization will feel like their inputs matter; and those that do the work can influence the desired results.

    Just my 2 cents worth. Thanks so much for your enlightening blogs.

    Enthusiastically Yours,


    • Stacey Barr says:

      Jay I LOVE the alignment of strategy and measurement to processes. In one of the PuMP tools, the Results Map, we cascade a strategy throughout the organisation using processes as the framework. The strategic goals are articulated as strategic performance results, and then each them is examined for which business processes have the greatest impact on it. Then we create process performance results that describe the impacts that each process has on the strategic performance result. From there, we examine each process to identify in-process performance results that have the biggest impact on the process performance results.

      It might sound like a complex thing (but I’m writing this at the end of two days of training 20 people while jet lagged!!) but really it’s quite elegant. I’m enthusiastically with you, Jay!

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