Sunday, May 01, 2011

Three lessons on what matters

There are a few lessons that I've learned along the way about things that matter. Since my training is in finance and economics, it's no surprise that my lessons are quantitative rather than qualitative.

I thought I'd pass them along however:

1) Things that matter are measured.

If it's important, we find a way to measure it. While some things are relatively easy to measure (i.e. number of people, revenue, how long something takes), other things are more difficult. If something is difficult to measure that doesn't mean we don't measure it. For example, an employee's performance is a difficult measurement, but most HR professionals encourage an annual evaluation that is based on some standard assessment.

2) What you measure tells people what matters.

The lesson here is that people are watching. If you are a race car driver and never bother to measure how long it takes you to do the quarter mile people will think you are not very serious about racing. In an organization, if getting things done matter, measure what gets done and how long it takes. People will take notice.

3) There are a very limited number of measurements that can truly matter.

This is what I call the 'scoreboard' approach. In a football game, there are all kinds of things that are measured including time of possession, number of yards penalized, passer ratings, offensive yards, etc. The only thing that really matters however is the score. One team walks away a winner, the other goes home the loser. The thing that truly matters is the score.

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