The Simplest Reason to Measure Is…

by Stacey Barr

Too many clichés tell us that we measure performance to manage, to control, to improve, to learn, to monitor, to hit targets. But what if there was a simpler reason to measure performance, that still paid off? That could really help out those people who are still a bit fearful or skeptical of measuring, don’t you think?

I reckon the simplest reason to measure is to notice. That’s it. Just notice.

Nerd Alert! I measure lots of stuff. I measure my resting heart rate in the morning, my heart rate variability, my weight, body fat percentage, how long I meditate for, how many carbs I eat, the speed and distance and average heart rate of my runs, the same for road rides, and a few other things about health and fitness.

My mountain biking skill is NOT something I measure quantitatively. I don’t time my runs on technical trails or the height of my jumps or the the number of switchbacks I can take smoothly. When it comes to mountain biking, I just notice.

I notice my speed and feeling of flow, I notice the tension or relaxation in my shoulders and forearms. I notice how closely I keep up with others I ride with. And the noticing is enough to make me improve.

The noticing is about focus. Where attention goes, energy flows. Well, that might sound a bit hippy-dippy, but it’s true. So just the act of measuring something means we’re noticing. And when we’re noticing, we’re giving our energy to it. And often you can’t help but improve.

So when you need to take some pressure off yourself or your colleagues, of hitting targets and continuously pushing to improve performance, stop all the activity and just notice for a while. Sometimes noticing is enough.


Do you have any stories of where just noticing has resulted in performance getting better?


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  1. Joscelyn Haggarty says:

    I found this article perfect in its simplicity. I was preparing a “Case for Change” in support of the implementation of an enterprise-wide performance management system. The template had many sections with questions about impacts and benefits of the change. Yet for all those questions one important question was missing and that was why. Why implement a performance management system? In an effort to answer this question I decided to see if you addressed this question in your blog – and I found my answer. The simple act of measuring something focuses ones attention on that thing. If an organization wishes to improve or change, it is necessary to focus all employees in the same direction. That is what performance management is all about.

    Thanks Stacey

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