We Can’t Measure Because…

by Stacey Barr |

Are you holding back from better performance measurement because your leaders aren’t open to it, or because your colleagues are too busy, or because your organisation isn’t ready for it? What’s really holding you back is YOU and not them…

falling businessman

At almost every PMBW that I teach, I hear the same complaint: “this process is great but I won’t be able to improve our performance measurement because…” There are quite a few variants on this but mostly it’s their belief that other people won’t let them.

If you’re feeling held back too, for similar reasons, then start by getting out of your own way first.

Because my boss won’t let me.

The problem: Your boss won’t let you do what exactly? Focus on the results that matter and measure and monitor them so you can improve the business processes that produce those results? What is that your boss thinks you should be doing instead?

A solution: Forget about getting permission to measure performance better. Think instead about understanding the results your boss really wants and do what you know needs to be done to get those results.

The spin-off: By making it about better performance and using measurement as a tool to get it, you’ll role-model the power of using measures to improve what matters and reach important targets.

Because our strategic direction isn’t clear.

The problem: So you can’t measure what matters because what matters isn’t clearly defined? While it’s true that vague strategy is an epidemic, what should we do when we don’t understand something that was written to guide us?

A solution: Forget about waiting for the senior leaders to write a clear and measurable strategy. Forget about waiting for them to realise that you and probably everyone else doesn’t understand it. Instead, ask them specific questions until you understand it.

The spin-off: Your questions may very well be just the catalyst the leaders need to realise that their strategy cannot be the guiding light they intended. They may just start asking themselves how they can fix that.

Because no-one has time to measure.

The problem: So you and your colleagues are too busy doing what exactly, that you don’t have time to get performance measures that improve your focus on and leverage in achieving the results that matter most? How much of your time is making the right impact? And how can you know unless you’re measuring it?

A solution: Forget about waiting until things settle down, until your current projects are complete, until the next planning cycle. You don’t have time to measure what matters, because you’re not measuring what matters. Just start measuring something that matters, and use that measure to show you where time is being wasted.

The spin-off: Good performance measures virtually ALWAYS show us where time is being wasted on things that don’t contribute to the results that matter. When you use measures to reveal this, you have a powerful WIIFM to get others involved in measuring what matters too.

Throw a pebble into the pond.

If you feel held back from more meaningful performance measurement because of other people resisting, you have to realise that it’s up to you to make the first move. You’re getting in your own way because of the belief that it’s up to them.

Get out of your own way by finding small things you can do through your own work, that demonstrate the power of performance measurement. It’s not about the measurement, it’s about amplifying our impact through the focus, feedback and leverage we get from great measures.

These small ways we can use measures to amplify our impact, these are like little pebbles we throw into the pond. And the impact travels out into the awareness of others like ripples.


What’s holding you back from practicing meaningful performance measurement in your organisation? Share it on the blog and let’s together find a pile of pebbles we can throw into the pond, and get the ripples flowing.

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