“Measurement is fabulous, unless you’re busy measuring what’s easy to measure as opposed to what improves you”
Measurable improvement is the critical ingredient to establishing a successful culture of business excellence. Measurement has to become part of daily work. Effective measures are essential if we are to understand how we are doing and then make the right decisions. Being effective comes before being efficient as there is nothing worse than doing the wrong things right. Every aspect of the business should be focused on creating value for our customers.
True north measures that guide our daily improvements and decision making are central to this. Ensuring measures are aligned to a shared purpose and anchored to our values keeps us on track by doing the right things right. True north measures aligned to safety, people, quality, delivery and cost created throughout the business drive purposeful improvement that moves the whole organisation forward.
We need to rethink the way we measure to encourage business excellenceMeasurement is deeply influential on successful transformations as it impacts on the way people view their work and customers. Creating measures without understanding their purpose for the whole system will lead to confusion and measuring things that do not matter because it is easy and comfortable to do. Collecting data for the sake of it and doing nothing with it is only adding waste into the system and holding back improvement in areas that matter. Measurement has traditionally been focused on what we needed to know and not on what we need to improve. In a culture of excellence people need to understand the purpose of measurement.
This needs to be defined clearly and cascaded through the business to drive daily focus as well as short and long-term direction. Measures that matter are therefore essential to focus improvement activities and track their benefits and outcomes. Remember that not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts, so measure what counts to ensure measurable improvement. Ideal behaviours and measurement are intrinsically connected. This happens when we have measurable improvement as part of a holistic culture of excellence. Communication on progress needs to be proactive and not reactive. It should be discussed at all levels as part of a daily habit.
Measures should be balanced between results and behaviours and have customer focus clearly embedded in the process. Measures are then acted upon and clear priorities are followed to improve overall performance. When people understand measures and are connected to them, they understand cause and effect, ask questions and become curious to find solutions by using initiative, collaboration and engagement. This sets the foundation for learning. Measurable improvements should seek to establish metrics that align horizontally and vertically, are understood by people and provide value for internal and external customers. The two mistakes of measurement, doing something when nothing is required and doing nothing when something is required.