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Management Mantra

April 5, 2007

tape-measure.gif If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.    Knowing what you want is a good first step.  Where are you now, and where would you like to be?   What initiatives will you undertake to get there, and how will you know when you’ve arrived?

Who, what, where, when, and why – all to be quantified, trended, and analyzed.    Metrics.

A word of caution – metrics can be an insidious thing.   Developing them, collecting them, analyzing them, presenting them.   That’s all work of sorts – it consumes resources and produces a product – knowledge.   However, in and of itself, it doesn’t DO anything to change the situation for a business or it’s customers. 

A prudent manager, therefore might have a budget – a metrics budget.    What portion of time, resources, and funding will be allocated to understand and track the situation, and what, hopefully much larger portion will be applied to actually change it?   

What’s that ratio?  1:5?  1:10?, 1:100?   How efficient is your organization in terms of resources consumed to understand and measure vs implement change in accordance with your strategy?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2007 7:39 pm

    An interesting post, Mark. Some thoughts on it,as you raise some questions.

    Understanding is fundamental not only form management but for every aspect in life. If you can’t understand it there’s little you can do about it. Metrics and measurements are the only way we can understand certain things, besides they are the only way we can communicate our understanding on a subject to someone. So, when you have to report the outcome of a project, Quarter or whatever you need to have the numbers to backup your knowledge. Regrettably numbers are the only way to prove how things are working.

    While that is great for accountants it is certainly a restriction for those who work in areas where there are major subjective factors in play.

    Take web for instance. There are a ton of things we can measure, which give you a nice idea of what’s going on. Visits, paths, revenue, conversion are all great ways to learn what works and what not. Yet there are certain things that remain somewhat in the dark.

    How can you measure design for instance? Sure, you can track come things, like click-through or look at overlays and see what people are clicking at; but there’s no way you can see if visitors are mesmerized by the design. Only test groups or surveys can give you an approximate idea on such scenarios. Buzz might be another good indicator, if people are talking about how good or how bad a design is, you’ll know it’s pretty good or pretty bad. If there is no buzz at all, you stand in the middle

    The Aim is to set clear objectives and find methods to know how close to achieving them one is. As I said some things are easier to measure in “numbers” others have to be measured otherwise. It takes a fair amount of creativity to get good at communicating the latter, but its not impossible.

    Finally a sort of “holistic” piece of advice: no matter how much time, money and resources you put into measuring something there is always some space left in the gray. That’s where instinct kicks in. Trust your gut, since if there where no human factors in play we’d have all been replaced by programs that just measure and react.

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