Measure for Measure

Do not allow your measurements to prevent your achievements.

Size matters, but what are you measuring?

Measuring as a costly myth

It's unclear to whom we must attribute the words “If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.” Peter Drucker and W. Edwards Deming seem to be the two candidates that are mentioned most often., however, has a correction: They state that Deming said "It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth."

It is this slightly longer contrarian statement that we agree with.

Off with their Heads said the Queen of Hearts

We are, of course, not advocating that measuring tapes, calipers and hygrometers, or SLAs, KPIs and OKRs should be thrown into the sea. These devices certainly are not guns, knives or pangas.

And, yes, it is impossible (not just difficult, but impossible) to operate any decent-sized organisation without a helluva lot of measuring.

So, no, measuring must not fall.

Measuring must be fixed.

C'est l'arbre qui cache le forêt

What we are arguing for is the abolishment of the cargo-cult tyranny of mindless ritualised measuring: the KPIs, OKRs and SLAs that we have because, uhm, well, we have to have them.

Corporate environments are full of magical-thinking types of measuring. What we want to focus on here is the concept of seeing the forest for the trees (when you measure). Don't let the detail of the measurement cloud your ability to see the big picture and to focus on what is really important. It's easy to read the previous sentence and to say: "Yes, of course we will." Yet, we regularly encounter scenarios where this is not the case.

Life, the Universe and Measurement

Ok, fine, but what does this mean? What does this mean in practice?

Measure evidence-of-success before indications-of-failure.
Measure progress-indicators before stagnation-indicators.
Measure value-delivery before deadline-adherence.
Measure momentum-sustainability before arbitrary milestones.
Measure revenue-and-profit-growth before budgets-and-spend-limits.

In general, do not allow your measurements to prevent your achievements.

Yeah, and this, of course, is also easy to say, but very difficult to do. Chaos can ensue. Things can fall apart.

Get it right though and you will have outperformance.

So, for example, please gladly overspend on your IT cloud-hosting budgets with a song in your heart and a lightness in your step, if that overspend will result in outperformance that dwarfs the overspend.

A Load (shedding) Off One's Back

Eskom's success has, for years now, been measured by focusing on failure. Success, perversely, is deemed to be a reduction in the frequency of outages known as "load-shedding".

Recently, according to this article "Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has held weekly media briefings attributing Eskom’s turnaround to the group’s elevated maintenance regime". Note the word 'turnaround'.

Yet, according to energy analyst Pieter Jordaan, quoted in that article, it is the "tanking demand" that reduced load-shedding. I.e. more companies and more households are bypassing Eskom by generating their own electricity.

Notably, those who can afford to bypass Eskom are also the ones that could afford to pay Eskom. A smaller percentage of those who can pay stay on as customers. Eskom is in a doom-loop. They are celebrating the wrong measures.

They measured and still could not manage. They failed.

Remember though. It is easy to make fun of Eskom's incompetence. It is a bit more difficult to spot that exact same plank in one's own eye.

Measure right.