6 Things You Should Avoid Measuring

by Stacey Barr |

Even if everyone else measures these 6 things, you should definitely avoid measuring 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.

Frustratingly, a lot of what is commonly measured definitely does sabotage the purpose of performance improvement. If you want to inspire and guide true improvement in performance, then avoid measuring these 6 things (or stop measuring them if you already do):

  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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  1. Jenny says:

    What about “don’t measure what you already know” as the level of satisfaction of people with their pay? (what you’re already bad at)

    • Stacey Barr says:

      Ha! Completely agree with you Jenny. Even if you already know it’s bad, but you have no intention of trying to improve it, then we’d say it fails the ‘will’ part of PuMP’s ‘should/can/will’ test. It means that while we should improve it, and we can improve it, we won’t. So no point measuring it!

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