A New KPI Approach is not a Bolt-On, it’s a Rebuild

by Stacey Barr

If an organisation is going to adopt a better performance measurement approach, the Strategy Team needs to first have a documented performance management process.

A New KPI Approach is not a Bolt-On, it's a Rebuild. Credit: https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/audioundwerbung

In automotive performance circles, there’s a term often used for quick and easy performance upgrades: “bolt-on performance”. Bolt-ons are…

“… any changes that merely involve removing the factory component and substituting an aftermarket component. Specialized tools or engine tuning are not necessary for these kinds of improvements.”PedalCommander.com

Too often, people assume or believe that a better approach to KPIs and performance measurement is just like a bolt-on. A few people learn the new approach, and then start doing it. But it doesn’t work that way.

A better performance measurement approach doesn’t bolt onto an organisation, like a less restrictive exhaust system or a cold-air intake can bolt onto a car engine. Performance measurement approaches need to be rebuilt into the organisation, not bolted on.

Changing how an organisation manages its performance does indeed require specialised tools and tuning. That’s because a new performance measurement approach affects and is affected by many other moving parts of the organisation. It’s like treating the installation of a high-performance camshaft into an engine as a bolt-on. That camshaft will bump up against lifters, pushrods, rockers and valves. These things can break or destroy the camshaft (or both), and potentially blow up the engine.

Bolting on a new performance measurement approach will bump up against things too, such as:

  • the performance culture of the organisation
  • the sense of urgency and importance of performance measurement compared to daily work
  • the timing and steps of the strategic planning process
  • how strategy is implemented or executed
  • how strategy execution is linked with process improvement
  • the performance measurement attitudes, knowledge, and skills of people
  • the management of data
  • how and when performance reporting and monitoring is done throughout the organisation
  • how deeply ingrained current approaches to measurement and KPIs are
  • what people believe KPIs are used for
  • how much leadership and support senior executives give to how measurement is used

It’s not a trivial endeavour to adopt any new performance measurement approach, like PuMP for example, and get it humming across the organisation. To make a change that sticks, we need a way to properly embed or integrate it. A rebuild, not a bolt-on.

Peter Ndaa, our regional PuMP Partner for Africa and the Middle East, was facilitating PuMP training and implementation coaching recently with a client. And he had an epiphany that may seem obvious in hindsight, but so rarely do we see organisations anticipating it:

“You need a performance management process that is documented before you can see exactly how to integrate PuMP – otherwise it can ultimately be rejected.” – Peter Ndaa

Peter’s suggestion is that the starting point is to document how performance management currently happens in our organisation. It’s like any process improvement we might want to make: it’s faster and easier and more lasting if we understand it before attempting to integrate something new or better. We need to understand how it currently works, how it currently dovetails into other moving parts, and where the current strengths and weaknesses are.

Only then we can see where, when, and how to rebuild it with the new approach, and make the whole thing work better.

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