The Biggest KPI Question to Answer First

by Stacey Barr |

Over the past 10 years of Measure Up’s life, over 13,000 subscribers have shared their biggest KPI questions with me. Almost 90% of all those questions come down to a core set of 11 questions. Only one of these is the right question to answer first.

So from all around the world, in all sectors and industries, there continues to be a core set of questions people have about how to do performance measurement and KPIs better:

  1. What implementation approach should I take to measure performance?
  2. How do I find the right measures or KPIs?
  3. How do I make strategy measurable, and align KPIs to it?
  4. How can I engage leaders and employees to buy in to measuring performance?
  5. How do I find the right measures for employee performance management/appraisal?
  6. How do I get started with KPIs and performance measurement?
  7. What knowledge do I need for measuring performance?
  8. How can I help my colleagues to get the KPIs they need?
  9. How do I use measures to get performance to improve?
  10. How do I analyse and report performance data and KPIs?
  11. Where can I find examples of what to measure?

Do you have any of these questions still?

Where do you start, to answer these KPI questions?

Well, where you start is not a matter of personal preference. There is a logical reason why just one of these questions must be answered first.

That’s because none of the other questions can be answered well, until that one question is answered first.

Answer the right KPI question first.

In a recent webinar, I asked listeners which of the five most commonly asked questions they thought was the most critical one to answer first. Here’s what they chose:

The most popular idea was to first make strategy measurable and align KPIs to it. Then secondly, to find the right measures. That’s seems logical, because those two things certainly do happen in that order, as steps in a process to implement measures. But something’s missing.

We can’t answer any of the KPI questions without first having an approach.

The reason why our strategy isn’t measurable, the reason why KPIs don’t align with strategy, the reason why we can’t find the right measures is because we don’t have an approach.

An approach is what answers the “how?” question. How do you bake a sponge cake? How do you re-jet a carburetor? How do you wire in a new surround sound system? You follow an approach. Creating a good performance measure or KPI is the same. But most people don’t have an approach.

The first KPI question to answer is:

“What implementation approach should I take to measure performance?

Do you have an approach to measurement and KPIs? Does that approach cover all the steps of measuring performance? Does that approach address the social aspects of measurement as well as the technical? Is that approach logical, practical and easy to understand? Does it have a name?

If you can’t answer “yes” to all these questions, then you don’t have a real performance measurement approach. And that’s where you need to start.


What is your approach to performance measurement and KPIs? What’s it called? Does it help you answer all the other common questions people have about measuring performance?

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