In his blog The Thorp Network, author John Thorp suggests that we should, “Measure what’s important and manage what you measure.”
When a strategy for improvement is identified it’ll be important to measure performance and success. Performance is important to measure because improvement depends on change, and there’s an inherent presumption of efficiency and momentum of the status quo that works against change. When performance is not measured, change either does not occur or occurs unevenly. Success should be measured in terms of the degree to which the intended benefits are realized because plans, even your best plans, will often have to be adjusted as new information is discovered and as circumstances change.
The UK’s National Health Service’s (NIH) Institute for Innovation and Improvement suggests creating, annually reviewing, and (most importantly) using a Performance Measure Sheet. On this sheet are the usual suspects in a thoughtful performance measurement tool that can be used to measure performance and success: Purpose of the measure, Related objective, Target, Formula, Frequency, Who measures, and Source of data.
With components of performance and success measured, it’s then important to manage what you measure. Without active management performances goals and success happen only by luck or happenstance, or more likely, occur unevenly. The NIH’s Performance Measure Sheet comes to the rescue again by including these two additional critical questions:
Who takes action?
Who is responsible for taking action on the measure?
What do they do?
Specify the types of action people should take to improve the performance of the measure.
Author William Gibson said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” By measuring what’s important and managing what you measure, you can ensure that the future is both here and evenly distributed; that the future is as you intend it to be.