Measuring Matters

Mike Leigh
by Mike Leigh

If you made any goals or resolutions for this year, you’ve now been working on them for about six months.  Perhaps this year you want to increase your margins, reduce customer lead time, or lose some weight.  How’s your progress?  Are you on track?

According to various studies, the success rate of goals and resolutions is in the range of 8-30%.  There are many contributing factors to this low success rate, such as the need for your goals to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-sensitive).  But the creation of SMART goals is not enough.  A detailed plan of action should be created, and progress should be measured.

“What gets measured, gets done.” is an often-heard phrase.  Measurement not only provides the feedback you need to make sure you are on track to achieving your goals, but it also contributes to the completion of the goal itself.  In other words, the act of measuring and tracking a goal, such as customer lead time reduction, can help your lead times go down.  This occurs for a few reasons.

  • Measurement tells you if progress is being made.  To achieve your goals, changes must occur, and those changes may or may not be having an impact on your goal.  Measurement provides the feedback you need to determine if your actions have been effective.
  • Measurement motivates the team.  The desire to achieve a personal best goal, or surpass others at work, can be enhanced by measurement.  Although many might not admit it, the desire to win is a self-motivator for most people.
  • Measurement holds you (or others) accountable.  I frequently hear from business leaders and HR professionals that they want their employees to be more accountable.  By using the concrete data that comes from measurement, you can coach your team on the impact of their actions and help them achieve greater success.

Despite all the benefits from measurement and tracking, you must be careful in your selections of what to measure.  Track too many items and you lose focus from information overload.  Track too few items and other results may suffer (inventory might increase while reducing customer lead times.)  Measure only what you need, and ensure your metrics are balanced and aligned to your strategic initiatives. 

This article was previously published in Valley Business Front Magazine.


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