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Measuring the right things is not easy or obvious

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

It’s clear that we should monitor, measure and report key outcomes and outputs that reflect our purpose, our strategy, what we are determined to achieve.  The need for feedback on how well we are going is undoubted.

Perhaps counter-intuitively though, too much focus on measuring outcomes and outputs creates a significant problem.  Just the other day, working with a client organisation, I was struck that they were so focused on consumer feedback and performance objectives that they were not measuring or understanding the factors driving performance.  As a result, they had become stuck in a “more of the same” loop where they were responding to performance (output and outcome) problems using the same thinking and assumptions.  They did not have any real understanding of the underlying business system dynamics and factors that needed to be understood and worked on.

The lesson seems simple but is often missed.  Well designed outcome and output indicators are crucial – they alert us to how well our business system is delivering what is needed.  However, they do not help us to understand why this is the case, and even less about how to respond.  For that, we need to monitor and measure how our business systems are operating, not just what they produce.

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