“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Excerpt From: Hertz, Noreena. “Eyes Wide Open.”
You have heard it said that “you get what you measure”. I have seen this to be very true. However, not always in a good way. I have seen the wrong metrics produce unsustainable balance sheets, or worse, drive companies into the ground. I have seen leaders hold this axiom as the final truth, operating with the thought process of, “Set up the metrics and no steering will be required”.
The issue is that metrics are not created equally. Not everything critical to foundational sustainability can be easily measured. Force fitting a metric, just to have a pretty graph in a powerpoint that doesn’t tell the real story, drives the wrong focus and fails to deliver progress in the end. Worse, we waste time measuring the inconsequential, pulling much needed resources from that which is foundational to success and sustainability. Pick your metrics wisely.
Don’t get me wrong, metrics are necessary – for communication, for helping assess trajectories, for accountability, or for driving improvements. They are critical for a healthy enterprise to stay healthy. They are critical for a team to know if they are making progress and sustaining. But they have to be the right metrics, and they can’t be the end-all. In addition, we must put the same energy on dealing with those things we know are critical, yet can’t be easily measured.
What in your sphere of influence “counts, but can’t be counted”? What are you personally doing to improve “what counts” – even if it has no metric? When we find and improve these things, we will be building a stronger, sustainable culture that we all want to be a part of.