Reaching Your Goals Through Triangulating Measures

by Stacey Barr |

Triangulation is a method of locating a point using information about its relationship to two or three known points. It’s applied in social sciences by using two or more methods to check the results of a study. Applying this concept to performance management, we can use multiple measures to triangulate our goals, lessening the likelihood of getting lost and wasting time in pursuing them. Here’s how…

For any performance result that we want to achieve, we need evidence to convince us of the degree to which it actually is being achieved.

That evidence is the feedback we need to know if how we’re pursuing that result is working; if it’s taking us closer to it with the least amount of effort and time.

If we rely just on one piece of evidence, we increase our risk of being misinformed and we increase the chance that people will argue about the measure’s relevance or integrity. You know it, I know it, we all know it: measures are never a perfect representation of reality. They offer only one perspective, and almost always it’s at best a good approximation of that perspective.

One of the ways to mitigate the risks of measures that misinform or fail to convince, is to stop relying on single measures. Instead, and where it’s sensible to do so, we can use several measures that evidence our result, to get a fuller picture. [Note: this is NOT an excuse to measure too much!]

And it’s important to choose a selection of measures that gives us different perspectives on our result. These different perspectives might come from:

Imagine, for example, you’re wanting to achieve a performance result of ‘customer orders are delivered quickly’. Choosing three measures from the following selection would give you a more complete view of the whole picture than any one of them could individually:

  1. Average customer satisfaction with speed of delivery
  2. Average days per delivery
  3. Median days for deliveries
  4. Interquartile range of days for deliveries
  5. Total days late as a percentage of total delivery days
  6. Percentage of deliveries within promised time
  7. Percentage of deliveries within customer expected time
  8. Number of customer complaints about late deliveries
  9. Percentage of customers inconvenienced by late deliveries
  10. Average days late for the 10% latest deliveries
  11. Percentage of enroute deliveries behind schedule
  12. Number of days/hours since last late delivery

This is what triangulation is about: using three or four measures to give you more convincing and complete evidence of how much a performance result is being achieved.

This post was inspired by Martin Klubeck’s idea about triangulation, in his book Metrics: How to Improve Key Business Results.


Do you have any performance results that are monitored with only a single measure? Share them on the Measure Up blog and we’ll collaborate to suggest ideas for triangulating them with complementary companion measures.

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