Call me kitsch but I can’t help myself: It’s the start of another fresh, unadulterated new year that’s pregnant with the promise that things can and will be better (THIS time) and so I offer to you these potential KPI resolutions for the new year ahead.
May you be motivated and sufficiently focused to truly make a real difference with performance measurement this year, beyond your wildest dreams:
KPI Resolution #1: Toss the time-wasting measures.
A version of the spring-clean, you could review all your existing KPIs (if inclined, stocktake them all) and then use a set of criteria to cull those that aren’t worth the pie charts they’re plotted on.
KPI Resolution #2: Challenge at least one weasel word every day.
The first person, each day, who utters a vague and meaning-devoid word like efficient, effective, sustainable, engaged, transparent, accountable, reliable, quality, enhanced or best-practice, ask them what they really mean, specifically. If you can’t pin it down into the real world, you can’t measure it. And frustratingly, most goals and objectives and strategy are filled with weasel words, rendering them immeasurable.
KPI Resolution #3: Invest in learning how to develop KPIs (not searching for them off-the-shelf)
The fast-food or quick-and-dirty approach to finding KPIs – by searching for them in a list or database somewhere – is one of the big reasons why most organisation’s KPIs suck. There’s no buy-in, no link to strategy, no resultant performance improvement. Instead, learn how to design and choose your measures by starting with a better understanding of the goals you’re trying to measure and designing the right measures for those specific results.
KPI Resolution #4: Make performance measurement PART of everyone’s job, not additional to the job.
Turning up to work means we’re responsible for specific results. If we’re responsible for results, we’re responsible for achieving them. If we’re responsible for achieving results, we have to measure them to know. And because standing still means going backward, we’re also responsible for improving results too (and seeing these improvements in our measures). Monitoring the performance of our work should be a responsibility in everyone’s role description.
KPI Resolution #5: Make time to measure performance.
Don’t wait until you have spare time to do performance measurement. It won’t happen. Measurement is fundamentally important to business or organisational success and actually has a higher priority than a lot of what’s eating up your colleagues’ and your time. Stop doing something less important than measuring performance.
KPI Resolution #6: Read “Understanding Variation” by Donald Wheeler.
It’s one of my all-time favourite books for performance measurement and it will have a revolutionary impact on how you present and interpret your performance data. The idea is to learn how to see the real signals in your performance measures, and stop knee-jerk reacting to differences between this month and last month, or this month and the same month last year. This book rocks.
KPI Resolution #7: Create two successful KPI case studies.
Apply a straightforward performance measurement process to select, implement and use a KPI to get a real improvement in performance that supports the current strategic direction of your organisation or business. Write up the experience as a case study, then do it again to improve another area of performance, and share these case studies with anyone you want to influence to take measurement more seriously. Show them that measuring what matters works.
Focus, focus, focus! Just one KPI New Year’s Resolution can make a big difference in how you measure what matters this year. Pick one from the list, or let the list inspire your own, but set yourself a goal and get stuck into achieving it. No more waiting for the perfect opportunity or perfect time. It’s now.
Very good article, short rethink pill for my own KPI approach.