The KPI Knowledge Everyone In The Organisation Needs

by Stacey Barr

Different people in our organisations need different KPI knowledge, based on how they get involved in performance management.

How much KPI knowledge does everyone in the organisation need? Credit:

I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but I’m not sure I have it right. Your ideas and experience are warmly welcomed to add to what I share in this article. And what I share in this article is a draft framework for how high-performance organisations can provide appropriate KPI knowledge for everyone in the organisation that needs it.

Does everyone need KPI knowledge?

Yes. Everyone needs KPI knowledge if they work in an organisation that exists to fulfill some purpose or promise. Anyone working in an organisation like this is either contributing to the fulfillment of said purpose or promise, or they are wasting organisational resources. This is why Dean Spitzer, the most forward-thinking performance measurement expert of our time, says this:

“[M]easurement is not something that should be reserved for the select few; in a high-performing organization, measurement is everybody’s job.”
— Dean Spitzer, Transforming Performance Measurement, page 4

But measurement is most definitely NOT about blaming people for not contributing! Rather, it’s important for everyone to know that measurement is the tool they need to discover the best ways to contribute.

Of course, everyone contributes to the organisation in different ways. And how they contribute will influence how they will be involved in performance measurement.

How do we classify different groups of people by the KPI knowledge they need?

The knowledge we need about anything is dictated by how we will be involved in that thing. There are different ways people can be involved in performance measurement, which I summarise into six distinct groups:

  1. KPI Process Workers: Collecting and managing data that is used for KPIs, analysing KPI data, or producing performance reports or dashboards that contain KPIs
  2. Managers and Team Leaders: Using measures in routine decision making or project management
  3. Measures Team Members: Participating in Measures Teams to design and develop new KPIs or review existing KPIs
  4. KPI Facilitators: Leading and facilitating Measures Teams to design, develop and use KPIs
  5. Leadership Teams: Communicating strategic direction and leading a performance culture
  6. Everyone else: Being clear about the results their work contributes to

What other significant roles are there, that people play in the performance measurement process in your organisation?

What does each group need to know about KPIs?

Because we’re all so busy and have to learn lots of things about lots of things, it’s wise to keep the performance measurement knowledge to a practical minimum. We want people to know just enough about KPIs to make their involvement in the performance measurement process work for them and work for the organisation.

The good thing is that there are levels of knowledge about KPIs that we can define:

  1. Why measurement matters and what it means.
  2. What approach the organisation uses for performance measurement and the specific principles it is based on.
  3. How to perform specific tasks that support the performance measurement process, such as to collect, analyse and report data, and how to use performance measures or KPIs to guide performance improvement.
  4. How to implement the organisation’s approach to performance measurement.
  5. How to lead teams to implement the organisation’s approach to performance measurement.
  6. How to role-model and support the measurement of performance throughout the organisation.
  7. Where and when to implement performance measurement throughout the organisation.

Then mapping the levels of knowledge appropriate to each group might look like this:

Group KPI Knowledge Levels
KPI Process Workers 1, 2 and 3
Managers and Team Leaders 1, 2 and 3
Measures Team Members 1, 2, 3 and 4
KPI Facilitators 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7
Leadership Teams 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7
Everyone Else 1 and 2

Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve written this to encourage contribution from you. So to build a future version of this article, that can be an excellent guide to those who want to give everyone just the right about KPI knowledge, please share your thoughts:

  • What do you think of what I’ve drafted above?
  • Have I missed some levels of KPI knowledge?
  • What have you tried, and what has worked?

Thank you!

Everyone in the organisation needs KPI knowledge. But exactly how much they need should be the bare minimum to help them be appropriately and constructively involved. [tweet this]

Speak Your Mind

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  1. Peter Rafferty says:

    I really like the framework you’ve written about here and think it will be very helpful for organizations working on implementing. Yes indeed, “measurement is everybody’s job,” but the parts of performance management we each focus on varies, to your point.

    An aspect of this that is catching me up is the absence of what’s needed to actually change an organization’s culture. I don’t mean to invoke the whole body of change management, but you and I know that culture change takes persistent and enduring work. I may just be misinterpreting what you’ve outlined, e.g., if KPI areas #2 and #3 are the creating and defining of the organization’s preferred approach, then the culture change is part of #1, #4, and #6, especially if the “how to implement” in #4 is meant to capture all the work of navigating opposition.

    The easy case is a small organization led by an evidence-based leader, but the older and bigger the organization, the harder we must shove against institutional inertia and the more we need to nurture champions. You state the leadership teams are responsible for “communicating strategic direction and leading a performance culture,” but it’s too generous to imply they always know how to do either of those things, and I don’t want to miss opportunities for grassroots performance cultivation.

    “Most performance measurement systems are never fully brought to life because of poor performance culture change management.” (you in June 2009)

    You’ve written so many good blogs about change management and performance culture. Maybe that’s why its absence here struck me? Or maybe those are leadership and process things intentionally separate from the KPI areas? Or maybe there’s a KPI area worth expanding on for this?

    • Stacey Barr says:

      You make some good points, Peter. For me, I think the culture change is triggered by #6, and when better performance measurement is implemented well, culture shifts as a consequence. I’ve not so far imagined that culture change has to happen in parallel to embedding a new performance measurement approach; I’ve imagined that it’s a result of how we go about the embedding. But I am no culture change expert. I’ll think on this some more, and see if it’s useful to make it more explicit in that list of 7 levels of KPI knowledge. Thanks so much for your insightful viewpoints!

  2. Mike Davidge says:

    Hi Stacey

    I hope you get lots of comments on this post. One thing that immediately springs to my mind is to separate the data collection from data processing and extraction. The former is undertaken by lots of staff across the organisation. The latter is generally restricted to a smallish group of experts. They require different types of support.

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