5 Traps to Avoid in Designing Performance Measures

March 3, 2015 by Stacey Barr

Whether or not you’re using the PuMP Measure Design technique to design your measures, you’ll do yourself a favour to note these common traps people fall into when designing their measures. Avoid them!

Trap #1: Not recognising an immeasurable result.

An immeasurable result is a goal or objective that you want to measure, but it’s worded so broadly or vaguely that you really struggle to anchor down in the tangible world in which it’s supposed to happen. Don’t try to measure a result until you’ve made sure it’s measurable.

Trap #2: Letting the weasel back in.

When you produce a list of draft performance measures for your result (or goal or objective), don’t use weasel words to describe those measures. Vagueness is the enemy of good measures.

Trap #3: Not writing quantitative measures.

Performance measures are quantitative things. They must be specifically articulated in quantitative terms.

Trap #4: Prioritising feasibility over strength.

“We don’t have any data for that.” That’s a common reason for not choosing measures. But often these measures are very powerful evidence of the result to be measured. If you limit your measures to the data you have, you’ll never have the data you need. Strength trumps feasibility.

Trap #5: Writing vague measure names and descriptions.

Vague measure names and limp descriptions (or no descriptions at all) are a terrible starting point for implementing new measures. The ambiguity will waste time and effort later on, when no-one has any clue what exactly to report.

DISCUSSION:

Have you fallen into any of these measure design traps? What happened? What did you do to stop it happening again?

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