Do not shoot the messenger

I have witnessed more debates about KPIs and measures than any human really should. They normally settle into a few clear families. We shouldn’t measure -insert controversial topic- because:

  • It’s too hard/expensive to measure
  • We tried that before and it didn’t work
  • It doesn’t have a causal link with the thing that we are interested in

The truth is that the real reasons behind not measuring certain things is often a combination of:

  • I can’t be bothered
  • It will make me look bad
  • It will force me to do something I don’t want to do

With the second group of issues the measure is the messenger, it’s the underlying thing that is being measured that is the problem – not the measure itself.

If the issues being raised in a KPI debate are from the first group but the real issues are from the second group of bullets then you need to think very carefully about the response. You could spend weeks or months tackling issues that are not at the real source of objection. Perhaps it is “cards on the table” time for all the participants?


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