Why 8 Weeks for a KPI Project?

February 7, 2012 by Stacey Barr

It’s quite easy to underestimate just how much it takes to transform an organisation’s approach to performance measurement. There are many set-in bad habits that cause the very problems with performance measurement that people would love to solve.

cyclingThe bad habits include writing goals and objectives in weasely and vague language, using brainstorming to come up with KPIs, failing to be specific enough in how each KPI should be implemented, and not using the KPIs validly to interpret and respond to signals.

You will create another failed performance measurement implementation if you don’t learn how to change these bad habits first. So the alternative I recommend to you is to start with a pilot, or a quick and focused PuMP implementation that makes it easier to learn new thinking, unlearn bad habits and fine-tune the approach itself before going large a bit later on. That’s what the 8-week Performance Measure Blueprint plan is all about.

Learn to ride the bike properly and build some fitness, before you line up at the start of the Tour de France.

Your emphasis through the 8-week PuMP program is learning through action – not aiming for perfection first time through (or ever, in all honesty). This means that your first one, two or even three PuMP implementations will have two levels of learning: the first level of learning is the PuMP techniques themselves, and the second level of learning is the facilitation of those PuMP techniques in a way that works for your organisation.

But it’s also vitally important to maintain momentum through your implementation, for three good reasons. Firstly, if you keep the pace up, you keep the energy high and people will have a better experience than if you draw it out too long. Secondly, if you fail fast you can learn fast. This means testing and discovering ways to tweak how you apply performance measurement, so you have more success on a grander scale later. Thirdly, by moving quickly you can arrive at a quick win much sooner. It’s the quick wins that sell the benefits of performance measurement to those who are sitting on the fence.

Chris is one of the people who have learned the PuMP Blueprint to an advanced level, and is a Certified PuMP Practitioner. Chris’s reflection on his first few PuMP implementations is a case in point:

“When I first started out on this journey, I endeavored to take eight teams through this process in the course of 12 weeks… It seemed like it would be possible to take the teams through the process little by little without too much diversion from their normal duties. How wrong I was. Looking back on it, I now realize it was too little stretched out over too long a period of time. Going forward, I will schedule bigger blocks of time (maybe 4 hours a session) and hold the workshops once a week rather than every two weeks with a completion date no later than six weeks for the training and the initial suite of measures. I will also try to get earlier wins on the board to fuel the momentum and buy in from the team.”

There is one final and very practical reason why I’m recommending you take eight weeks for your first few PuMP implementations: there are eight key steps in the process of choosing, creating and using performance measures (the process we call the PuMP Blueprint). And I’ll share those steps with you in the next issue of Measure Up.

TAKE ACTION: How long have performance measurement implementations taken your organisation in the past, from measure selection through to using the measures to improve performance? Can you think of one opportunity to test out the 8-week approach, as a challenge for coming up with better measures, easier and faster?

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