6 Things You Should Avoid Measuring

November 19, 2019 by Stacey Barr

Even if everyone else measures these 6 things, you should avoid them if you want performance to improve.

Person standing at a tall cliff face. Credit: Joseph Shelly

I will firmly stand by my decision to only measure my strategy and business process performance. Nothing else. Because we measure to inspire and guide improvement in performance, what we choose to measure must not sabotage that purpose.

And there are six things that are commonly measured, which definitely do sabotage the purpose of performance improvement. Avoid measuring these:

  1. People’s performance. If you measure people, you’ll decrease buy-in, elevate stress, reduce collaboration, and increase your risk of gaming.
  2. Actions or milestones. If you measure actions, everyone will put too much effort into doing and not enough effort into making a difference that matters.
  3. Just because you have the data. If your existing data inspires what you measure, you’ll never get the information that matters as your goals and business environments change.
  4. Whatever isn’t strategically important or mission critical. If you measure just because it’s always been measured or whatever could possibly be measured, you won’t have enough time to measure and improve the true priorities.
  5. What you’re already good at without trying. If you measure just the good news (known as vanity metrics), you’re wasting effort that is better spent measuring what needs to be improved, and should become yet more things you’re good at.
  6. Ranks. If you measure to compare to other organisations, your attention will shift away from leveraging your organisation’s unique strengths, and improving your organisation’s important weaknesses.

Measuring these things will waste time, decrease buy-in, and sabotage the performance of what really matters. They’re not worth it, even if everyone else is measuring them. Remember what your parents used to say when you did something dumb because your friends did?

“If they jumped of a cliff, would you do it to?”

You wouldn’t jump of a cliff just because ‘they’ do, so why measure useless things just because ‘they’ do?
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