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Do Your Metrics Matter? 4 Critical Questions

No sane business leader will ever say that metrics do not matter. However, as Bill Zipp notes, there are many business leaders who believe in metrics and yet do nothing to prove it. Zipp comes up with four key questions to ask in order to parse whether you are using metrics strategically or merely decoratively:

  • Are your metrics few in number?
  • Are your metrics predictive of performance?
  • Are your metrics tracked consistently?
  • Are your metrics celebrated publicly?

Keeping it Real with Metrics

Displaying a few cherished action figures from your childhood in your little private corner of the house can be fun. If you cover your entire bedroom in Star Wars or Voltron though, it stops being fun and starts being just background noise. The same principle applies to metrics. You need to slim the number of metrics you use down to a manageable, comprehensible size.  Zipp calls having three or four fundamentally important metrics to be the “vital signs” being monitored.

Metrics must be predictive as well, about which Zipp says:

Metrics that matter, then, are windshield metrics, leading indicators, not rear view mirror metrics, lagging indicators. While lagging indicators tell you some things, it’s too late for you to do anything about those things because they’re in the past. Leading indicators allow you to steer the course of your company into the future.

You need to think through your metrics to imagine where the business is headed. Then you need to make sure they are tracked regularly. Surprisingly, Zipp has lost count of the number of times in consulting that he has helped businesses set up metrics, only for them to forget all about the metrics almost immediately. Think of what that says for your company culture if it can be so lax about something so crucial.

One way to get buy-in with metrics is to use them to celebrate victories. Metrics should tell you when everything is going exceedingly great, not just exceedingly wrong. Praise employees publicly for their work, and maybe they will use that as a reason to remember that the metrics exist at all.

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About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid’s Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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