If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. ~Peter Drucker
Therefore, if you measure it, you are more likely to manage it. ~Kathryn Scanland
I don't like to admit it, but I have found it to be quite true that if I measure something I'm more likely to manage it. Here's a personal example.
Several years ago I participated in one of my client's wellness activities and was part of a walking team. Teams across the organization competed for six weeks; everyone wore the same pedometer and tracked their daily number of steps. After six weeks of being very diligent about monitoring my walking, I assumed that because I had gained a feel for 10,000 steps a day I would be able to maintain that habit well into the future. Well, this past fall I finally admitted to myself that I had gradually slacked off and my daily walking was likely no longer close to 10,000 steps. So I ordered a good pedometer (mine from several years ago barely lasted the six weeks) and I have been wearing it for three months and plan to continue wearing it indefinitely. Because I realized that if I'm not measuring it, I'm not managing it.
This was confirmed recently when I learned that people who wear a pedometer walk 27% more than people who don't wear a pedometer. Interestingly, I have discovered that my average daily routine is about 7,500 steps, but my goal is 10,000 steps, a 25% difference. So that silly little device clipped to my clothes every day significantly increases the odds of reaching my daily goal.
What can be dangerous about this idea is the obsession to measure everything. That's not what I'm suggesting. I know of organizations that have hundreds of metrics, yet employees don't know if the organization is actually on-track or doing well. The manifestation of measurement madness is not helpful. Knowing what is truly meaningful and understanding what needs to be measured so that it's constantly managed, however, is critical. In my personal example, what's most important to me is whether or not I'm managing my health, not the precise number of steps I take on a daily basis. Measuring my steps enables me to manage my health.
This might be another way to look at it. Within your organization (or life), what are the top three things that if managed extremely well, enable you to thrive? How are you measuring those three things?
Keep in mind that my reframing of Drucker's quote is "if you measure it, you are more likely to manage it." If you are more likely to manage it that means it's also something over which you have control. We could all measure the economy, but we have no control over it. We can control our response to it, but not its actual fluctuations.
Since it is still January and the most popular New Year's resolution is losing weight…how many of us avoid stepping on the scale? Why? If we did weigh ourselves, we might have to start managing our diet and exercise. As long as we're not measuring it, we can also easily avoid managing it.
So I'll ask again, within your organization (or life), what are the top three things in 2014 that if managed extremely well will enable you to thrive? How are you measuring those three things?