You may be on to something, Rachel. I’m going to think out loud:
We were not lacking in metrics. We had them on all the usual IT suspect: uptime, speed, security threats, customer service response times, customer satisfaction and delight, etc. we had applied cost figures to everything we could. We even tracked printer, toner and paper usage; discovered the optimal cost-saving configuration for the different pieces of hardware based on local employee printing patterns and job description, and posted heat maps on hallway walls (I still have these if anyone is interested) to show where costs were highest and lowest. I was the process owner for several ISO 9000 issues (tracked and presented monthly) and a co-lead on others. The numbers were always stellar, and all my staffs were trained in the languages of finance and contracting.
The metrics “that they cared about” is another matter. I did find it challenging to come up with a metric that showed how our service was helping the Defense Department position medical supplies or deliver immunizations more effectively, for example. For the most part, my Directorate supplied technology tools and kept them running securely. Other Directorates used those tools to order supplies, manage contracts, develop standards for nomenclature, etc.
In cases where you suggest we create value outside our area – as when my staffs used these tools and their expertise to reduce the multiple award task order contract evaluation process from 45 days to under five minutes – things get political.
The question of taking credit for things outside of an area (in this case, proving that our Directorate was more than a cost center), is bigger than capturing and displaying metrics. It’s involves forging and honoring social contracts – giving other Directors a chance to shine for the things they are doing – sharing the credit for a job well done organization-wide – not being greedy.
As evidenced by 42 pages worth of positive customer satisfaction data, my teams were well liked and effective in the “box” they were in. I think my failure was an inability to communicate the fact that this wasn’t just a good group of people doing a job well. This was a team with synergy that provided value well beyond what the data could easily show.
The data we shared was clean, prolific, and indisputable. The “mojo,” however, was not so easily quantifyable. It was something that others wanted or took for granted. It could not be costed (if you know a way, please share!) or replicated by wording in a new contract.
I’m serious when I say, if you or someone else on this string can show me how to capture and display a “mojo” metric that communicates the value that morale, commitment, synergy, and going above and beyond adds to an organization, I will buy you a cup of coffee in the coffee shop of your choice. Disclaimer: You must be within short range driving distance (under an hour) of my office, but it’s yours for the taking. 🙂