Using and abusing metrics

The primary goal of a metric or quantification is clarification. I want to understand something and therefore try to quantify it. Once you use a metric for a target it ceases to be a very good informative metric. Seeing low scores on employee feedback surveys can easily be fixed if you explain to the respondents that certain things will happen if the answers do not match the target sought by upper management. I have seen a multinational company in our region go through such a case. Problem solved, crisis avoided. ;)

In my work with companies I see a lot of KPIs (Key Progress Indicators) mentioned, listed and monitored, but their point and logic is missed by the people working towards them. Helping everyone understand the bigger picture would often improve the performance of the whole organisation. Even the simple idea of knowing the difference between leading and lagging indicators (e.g. diet and exercise vs. bodyweight in kg) will help create a common purpose.

I wrote an article on the subject of metrics - if you want to read it, send me an email. I held a talk at the recent Agile Saturday X on the topic of metrics. You can see the video here

  • Hanno Jarvet

  • Skype:hannojarvet