You get what you measure

So be sure to measure what it is that you want to get.

If your intention is to achieve a specific goal, that you obviously desire in the future (there is no other place that desire can exist), you will obviously get to work trying to progress, through a series of actions, towards that goal.

How are you measuring your progress along the way?

As the classic saying goes; "You get what you measure."  

The key follow up question then is: "Are you measuring the right things that will deliver what it is that you want to get?"

Maybe not.

Here's an example.

I consulted to a big tech firm that had grown significantly year-on-year for a good number of years, but they were struggling to achieve any kind of sustainable profitability.

They called us in to help them solve their operational problem.

Their desire was to be profitable, so they set about focusing on sales and closing more deals with bigger clients that demanded higher levels of customisation of the product.

They agreed to measure sales and tracked their progress closely.

Sure enough sales increased and revenue went up.

However what they hadn't gambled on was that the seemingly clever plan almost put the company out of business.

The increasing number of sales to clients who demanded increasingly complex solutions just about destroyed the company.

Staff suffered from burnout, desperate attempts to wrestle a rapidly ageing tech stack yielded poor results and the overall elevated level of organisational anxiety was palpable.

The company became a challenging place to work.

Simply focusing on improving sales and measuring that wasn't ever going to directly have the outcome of profit.

Interestingly, the solution to the problem was to focus on improving internal cohesion.

By strengthening communication and the working relationships between different parts of the business the company was able to work more effectively as one big team on projects, which over time did result in improved productivity, less rework and ultimately profitability. The metric used to measure progress in this case was qualitative and was tracked on a dashboard.

Just because it was easy to measure sales didn't mean that improving the sales numbers would be the solution to the problem.

Be sure that what you are measuring and trying to improvement will actually deliver the future outcome that you are hoping for.