From working with organisations on making their performance measurement more meaningful, a common complaint is that “we have too many KPIs”. The opposite sometime occurs, where some people say they are a measure free zone. Which really means they have data, but are not measuring. Too many KPIs..? Change your approach. Measure free zone..? Change your approach.
Recently I worked with Stacey Barr to deliver the Performance Measurement Blueprint Workshop in Brisbane with an enthusiastic group of people keen to learn the PuMP method for practical performance measurement, and during this workshop a thought occurred to me…this post shares that thought.
I have worked as a consultant in the area of performance measurement for 10 years, prior to that, 15 years in senior management; measures, metrics, stats, data, counts and numbers are all around us. As business leaders we make decisions based on these numbers, don’t we? Or are we going on the good old gut instinct. Anyway, there appears to be a dichotomy in organisations today, either they are a Measure Free Zone, or they have Too Many KPIs.
Measure Free Zones
Measure Free Zones, have measures – they count all the stuff they need to be compliant. There are people in IT who can pull numbers on a lot of activity, and there are people in the back room counting the beans. But when it comes measuring the results of their work, there is a void.
Intuitively these organisations know where they are going. But they are not getting any evidence or feedback to let them know what is working (or not) and by how much. Decision-making then often becomes problematic for the management teams.
Discussions are based on opinions. Rhetoric becomes a key influencer on decisions and strategy, rather than using evidenced based feedback to track progress towards our goals.
Too Many KPIs
Too Many KPIs organisations are drowning in numbers, ratios and stats. Monthly reports are centimetres thick, and nobody reads them.
Then, because no one gets value from the reports, someone has the idea to produce a ‘report on a page’. This often becomes A3 paper with size 8 or 9 font so that we can cram in as many measures and numbers as possible.
What’s missing here is a some clear articulation of the objectives, goals or results that are important to track. That is, the things we are really trying to make a difference in, the areas we have chosen to improve our performance. And in the absence of a clear focus, everything becomes a important.
Don’t get me wrong here, measuring compliance is important. Measuring activity can be essential. But when these areas of measurement become KPIs (measures with targets), then the focus is on monitoring. Most organisations today are trying to improve. Therefore the focus for measurement and KPIs needs to be on the things we want to improve. We need to focus our limited time on the things that need our attention.
So what are you.. a MFZ or a TMK..? Or are you somewhere in-between..?
Perhaps you are one of the organisations that has translated its strategic intent into a set of performance results. Then, designed measures that will give you feedback about how you are progressing towards those results. And your teams are tracking their own journey of continuous improvement. If you are probably using the PuMP KPI method.
Too many KPIs, or a Measure Free Zone, don’t keep doing the same thing. Change your approach. Here is a discussion on the various KPI methods around.
I use the PuMP approach and you can read more about that here:
- How to make you KPIs meaningful
- Let’s Ban KPIs discusses the common problems with the way we use KPIs
- Or this link will take you to my PuMP and KPIs page.