Ever heard the phrase “What gets measured gets done?” It gets tossed around when someone is trying to convince you of adding a metric to your project or scorecard. It sounds good, doesn’t it? If we can measure X, then we will achieve the performance we want.

It is not that easy. Simply measuring something does not ensure that some action will then take place. Consider a rain gauge, which measures how much rain has fallen (+/- evaporation, which may be calculated based on temperature and humidity). Nothing gets done, however, just because you have measured the rain. Nothing gets “done” by looking at the rain gauge.

So measure something that needs an action attached to it. Let’s assume you have a garden that needs water to survive and produce food for your family. In this example, the only way to ensure that “what gets measured gets done” is to program a piece of machinery to execute a set of commands based on the rain gauge’s measurement. Now you have a moisture gauge that is linked to your sprinkler system that controls the length of time the sprinkler runs based on the amount of rain received that day.

There is a lot more that goes into any process than just measurement. There are three fundamental practices that are needed for your scoreboard or dashboard to be effective:

  1. The goals and metrics you are measuring have to align with corporate goals. If they align with your overall strategy, those goals and metrics still need to pass the “gut check.” Does it make sense? If I do this, will I get the results that I want?
  2. Demonstrate the link between the metrics and the overall corporate goals. Just because they align does not mean that the people performing the work see that connection. This link to overall company performance is key. The metrics/goals must be simple enough that each person sees that the tasks they work on each day impact the overall company’s performance.
  3. Leadership has to follow-up – simply measuring something will NEVER ensure an action (or actions) “gets done.” Leadership must review, challenge and provide feedback on the work being done. All work fails if the people performing the work don’t feel like they are part of the team. Employees will care about results because leadership cares about them.

Use the phrase “what gets measured gets done” with confidence and know that your dashboard/scoreboard will achieve the desired results – what gets measured makes sense, aligns with goals and is followed-up upon.

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