Are Metrics Harming Your Business?

Are Metrics Harming Your Business?

The September/October 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review asks this question. The answer is obvious, but some people will read this the wrong way. Here’s why:

“This is a September / October 2019 edition of the Harvard Business Review. You can see here it says, “Are Metrics Undermining Your Business?”

“Now the essence of the article is “Bad metrics drive bad behavior.” Well, I think we all know that, but I think too often people who hate metrics will just look at that and say, “There’s proof! See? Measurements are ruining our business. We’ve got to go back to gut feel, common sense and trial-and-error.” Wrong! All right? Wrong-o!

“If you are not measuring things, you can’t get better at it. As good as you’re going to get with common sense, trial-and-error, and gut feel, there’s going to be a 1% error rate, or about 4 Sigma. That’s as good as you’re ever going to get, because at that point all your five senses stop working so you can’t see it, hear it, or feel it anymore. It doesn’t happen often enough for you to say, “Oh, there’s a problem.”

“So if you want to get to four, five, six, seven sigma, you’re going to have to use some metrics, but you have to make sure that those metrics (especially if they’re attached to money) don’t drive stupid behavior (and they can).

“So, that’s my Improvement Insight for this week. I’m Jay Arthur. Let’s go out and improve something this week. “