Why Does KPI Engagement Matter More Than KPI Sophistication?

by Stacey Barr

Teams reach performance excellence much sooner by increasing their engagement in measuring before increasing the sophistication of what they measure.

A complex equation for measuring. Credit: https://www.istockphoto.com/au/portfolio/niserin

Earlier in my performance measurement career, I facilitated a lot of teams to develop performance measures. One of the techniques I used, the PuMP Measure Design technique, has the team collaborate on listing potential measures for their goal. Then they choose the most feasible and relevant measure from the list, to go with.

In a team within a transport organisation, one of the members couldn’t accept the team’s selection of a measure for road condition. Being the engineer he was, he wanted to choose the very technical measure he had contributed to the list. It probably was the right measure to use, but it wasn’t going to work. Not yet, anyway.

To help him understand why his technical measure wasn’t going to work, we discussed two scenarios:

  1. If a sophisticated measure has no buy-in, it won’t be implemented.
  2. If a simpler measure has buy-in, it will be implemented, and then it can evolve into something more sophisticated.

It’s very logical, really. And logic will appeal to an engineer (and most people who have the capacity to understand sophisticated and technical measures). The logic goes like this:

  1. We need people to feel engaged in the process of measuring.
  2. When they are engaged in the process of measuring, they own and value the measures they create.
  3. When they own and value the measures they create, they will implement and use those measures.
  4. When they implement and use those measures, they discover the measures’ limitations.
  5. When they discover the measures’ limitations, they want to create better measures.
  6. When they create better measures, they move closer to more sophistication in their measurement.

The PuMP techniques hold the space for engagement to come first, by ensuring that the team creates their own measures. The PuMP techniques provide a process to facilitate the discussion that creates ownership and buy-in and engagement. Any measurement approach that tells people what to measure is going to fail.

Harald, the CEO of a technology company, had to fight his instinct to influence his teams on what to measure. But he held back, and facilitated his teams through PuMP, so they could become as engaged as possible in the process, and skilled in creating measures that they truly owned:

“I can tell people, ‘That’s not good. Change it,’ and that’s the hierarchal old way. Now we need to do it differently… I’m totally convinced that this must be a self-experience by teams and not something that anyone from a hierarchal perspective tells them that they have to do it differently.”

Steven Pressfield, in his book Turning Pro, talks about a famous thoroughbred trainer who uses play rather than pain to teach the horses. He says:

“A horse that loves to run will beat a horse that’s compelled, every day of the week… Never train your horse to exhaustion. Leave him wanting more.”

To have our leaders and colleagues “wanting more” in developing and using performance measures, they have to love what it does for them. Don’t exhaust them with jumping through bureaucratic KPI hoops. Make it meaningful, make it easy, make it theirs.

The more engaged people are with KPIs, the more they learn and the more sophisticated the measures will be. Force sophistication too soon, and it all grinds to a halt.
[tweet this]


Speak Your Mind

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Upcoming KPI Training

    Our next PuMP Performance Measure Blueprint Workshops include:

    >> Australia/NZ/Asia Pacific, Online Interactive, 6-7, 11-13 Oct 2021 *REGISTRATION CLOSED*

    >> Africa, Online Interactive, 11-15 Oct 2021

    >> United Kingdom, Online Interactive 5, 12, 19, 26 Nov & 3 Dec 2021

    >> Australia/NZ/Asia Pacific, Online Interactive, 10-11, 15-17 Nov 2021

    >> North America, Online Interactive, 15-19 Nov 2021

    >> Africa, Online Interactive, 14-18 Mar 2022

    >> Africa, Online Interactive, 20-24 Jun 2022

    >> Africa, Online Interactive, 26-30 Sep 2022

    >> Africa, Online Interactive, 28 Nov - 2 Dec 2022

    Register for the next PuMP Blueprint Workshop near you

    Stacey's Books

    Prove It! How to Create a High-Performance Culture and Measurable Success, book by Stacey Barr

    Order Prove It! here.

    Practical Performance Measurement: Using the PuMP Blueprint For Fast, Easy, And Engaging KPIs, book by Stacey Barr

    Order Practical Performance Measurement here.

    Reprinting Articles

    You are welcome to use articles from the Measure Up blog, with these requirements

    Connect with Stacey

    Haven’t found what you’re looking for? Want more information? Fill out the form below and I’ll get in touch with you as soon as possible.

      *We respect your email privacy.
      Level 54, 111 Eagle Street
      Brisbane, Qld, 4000
      Stacey Barr Pty Ltd
      ACN: 129953635
      Director: Stacey Barr