The Oxford Dictionary defines metrics as “a method of measuring something, or the results obtained from this.” After working in and across corporate America for over twenty years, I have come to the realization that metrics are used inconsistently, inappropriately or, in some cases, not at all. When captured properly and used in a proactive and impactful manner, metrics can help lead an organization to longer term, more sustainable success.
I am excited to be collaborating with Joe Picone, former President of Ground Transportation at United Parcel Service (UPS), on a book we are titling Reading Between the Lines: Why the Right Metrics Drive Success. Due to be completed this coming spring 2020, we will be highlighting considerations for leaders when attempting to determine the right approach to establishing, tracking and acting on metrics for their teams, departments and organizations. We will share accounts of how metrics have been used both historically and today in sports, learning organizations and corporate operations to drive success. The focus will be to highlight how identifying and tracking the right metrics can improve your approach to business operations, performance management and professional development.
Why this book?
Metrics are essential
People struggle with determining whether a return on their investment has been realized, regardless of the type of buying decision made. We often ask ourselves the question, “Was it worth it?”, or are we suffering from “buyer’s remorse”? Before we can make such a determination, we must think about the “why” behind our purchase. What was driving the decision? What had we hoped to gain from it? How did we define success up front? In learning and development, much like in life, we must think about “what” is driving the decision to implement something that costs money, “why” we are doing it and the value we have gained from its implementation. We must be able to articulate and demonstrate that the benefits outweigh the costs in a simple, straightforward manner.
The measurement trap
In my career, I’ve witnessed measuring and tracking way too many elements to a point that it confused people on what’s really important. I also experienced someone’s idea of a solution to this as creating indexes of measures to make them appear as if there were less measures. This is when various measures are categorized into different indexes and then roll up to the index total. Usually this is done to satisfy various departments’ priorities. That does not work too well. Prioritizing which measure can best drive an initiative or project is extremely important to help make the right decisions and/or meet an objective. I also believe keeping it simple is important for a successful execution. A handful of metrics should do the trick.
In the upcoming book Reading Between the Lines, we will provide some “food for thought” on how you can take steps to improve your identification and utilization of appropriate metrics.
Book Overview (Outline)
Part 1: Rationale for Metrics
- Chapter 1: What’s in a Number?
- Chapter 2: Origin and Evolution of Metrics and Analytics
Part 2: Metrics and the “Three-Legged Stool” (Performance, Learning & Development, Continuous Improvement)
- Chapter 3: Performance Metrics and Indicators
- Chapter 4: Learning and Development Matrix
- Chapter 5: Frameworks for Providing Continuous Improvement Services
Part 3: Conclusion
- Chapter 6: What’s Next?