My Biggest Tip for Better KPIs

December 20, 2016 by Stacey Barr

If there was just one thing I could share with you that would have the biggest impact on the ease of finding meaningful performance measures or KPIs, it’s this: use words better. It’s impossible to get meaningful numbers until you know exactly what you’re trying to quantify.

I’ve written extensively on weasel words, because it’s important to get rid of them for meaningful measures. And I continue writing and speaking about them because organisations are still using them to write the goals they’re tying to meaningfully measure!

They continue to run rampant, because so few of us are courageous enough to ask the dumb questions: What does ‘unique improved paradigm’ mean? What does ‘operational excellence’ look like?

We have to stop using these silly words. I’m not the only one who has a bee in her bonnet about this. So don’t just take my word for it. Here are a few other great resources that will give you a chuckle as they show you why weasel words have to go:

  1. My friend Gabriel Dolan is a story expert, and she launched this brilliant website of videos that show just how silly weasel words are:
    //jargonfreefriday.com
  2. My friend and client in the US, Jerry Stigall, sent me an interesting tool for generating corporate B.S. I just had another go at it and got “appropriately redefine high-payoff deliverables”. Maybe you can write your 2017 goals with it? <tongue in cheek>
    //www.atrixnet.com/bs-generator.html
  3. If you have some goals and want to test if they are weasely, you can put them through SimpleWriter and it will highlight language that should be made simpler:
    //xkcd.com/simplewriter/
  4. Australian author, Don Watson, writes books about weasel words and this website pokes fun of lots of examples from all walks of life:
    //www.weaselwords.com.au/

Enjoy! And ask the dumb questions.

DISCUSSION:

Could a new year’s resolution for you be to eradicate your use of weasel words, and be the role model your organisation needs?

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  1. David says:

    WEASEL words to eradicate in my place:
    “key” everything is ‘key’; so nothing is!
    “Roll out” we never ‘start’ anything, we always ‘Roll out’ stuff!
    And nothing just is; it is always pleonastically ‘in place’ as though the verb To Be means nothing.
    Anyway, time to…you guessed it ‘sign off’.

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