Odd measurements?

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    I didn’t find anywhere better place for this post.

    I often get responses like

    “Can’t be done here, we are so special”
    “There are NO way to measure that”

    And so on, you probably recognize your self.

    I did heard a story about a hospital that needed to know why the lead-time for a patient was so long. After rootcause analysis they did find that the journal were the key (the patient can earliest be treated at arrival of journal). And how did the journal travel? In batches carried by nurses. So they did equipped all nurses with pedometers and figured out the optimal batch size.

    Probably there are lots more way to measure the example above, I just took that as an example, the meaning is NOT to solve the hospital problem, it was jus as I said an example.

    What I would like to know are if any one of you have any examples that at first appeared impossible to measure but after some creative thinking a measurement meted were developed.

    To have an arsenal of examples may make it easier to address responses described earlier and use as “brainteasers” to encourage new thinking.





    The problem often is that policy/procedure may hide/prevent measuring what should be measured. Find a way to get around that rather than accepting excuse. Start by asking why the measurement isn’t available. You shouldn’t need an “arsenal of examples” but here are two as food for thought:

    A call center regularly showed time to close problem reports within their service level agreement but those reporting problems complained that their problem was not solved and they had to call back. They had a policy of closing tickets due to age so how it long it took to actually solve the problem could not be measured. Requiring a followup survey sent to each caller got the real numbers.

    A manufacturer wanted to track how well they were fulfilling orders — Shipping what the customer wanted, when it was wanted. The data from the computer system looked great but customers complained. It turned out that order takers were only entering orders that could be filled because their order entry system could not easily process backorders. The rest went into a file drawer and were only entered when product was available, after confirming that customer still wanted it. Solution was to require them to keep a log of every order that went into the drawer.



    Robin Lawton wrote a book entitled Creating a Customer-Centered Culture. It’s available through ASQ Press. It has a good methodology for developing a measurement.

    If you follow that approach, don’t forget the “operational definition” – that’s the things you do to make sure everybody knows exactly what you are measuring, and how everybody knows how to measure the same way.

    Let me know if you want more details.



    How to Measure Anything is a decent text to familiarize yourself with regarding this subject. I especially like the calibration exercise designed around having SME establish CI for a given CL. Interesting approach. Also look into the Fermi Method.

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