Thursday, 17 December 2009

Measurement is fundamental to performance

I was faced with a task today where I had no immediate way of measuring my progress. Not being able to clearly see my way through a job is frustrating and does not encourage me to perform at my best. It got me thinking about how important it is to be able to see how we are doing vis-a-vis expectations.

It would be a little like driving a car without a speedometer or the ability to measure distance. “Are we there yet?” would be met with “Oh, I think so, a bit further maybe. We will recognise it when we see it!”

We are so used to everything being measured – from the miles that we drive to the hours that we work – that we barely give it a second thought. But the frustration in getting to Birmingham when we don’t know how fast we are going, how far away it is, or how far we have travelled would be significant. Imagine not knowing how much money is in your bank account, or what time your favourite television programme was on. The hit and miss fiasco that would be the weekly budget, or trying to guess when to tune in would be farcical.

Yet how many jobs at work do we tackle without measuring them? Quite a few. How many could be improved through some form of measurement? I would suggest, quite a few.

“The odds of hitting the target go up enormously when you aim at it” is attributed to Mal Pancost. I’m guess he was taking as read that we know how far away the target is.

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