KPI Blog

school closed by snow and the wrong KPIs

Defining KPIs: How the wrong KPI shut schools

By Bernie | May 13, 2014

Defining KPIs clearly is crucial. Badly defined KPIs have unfortunate side effects. The cobra effect is one of my favourites. Most people agree that going to school is good for children. This means that there is a government focus on truancy as a measure. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons why children cannot get to school. One such reason is snow. A singular focus on truancy…

Quizzical Border Collie

Performance measurement, biscuits and a cunning sheep dog

By Bernie | June 12, 2013

I have always thought sheep dogs were intelligent. I didn’t realise, until recently, that they are smarter than me (well, at least one is). A while ago I was walking with a friend. Her sheep dog, a Border Collie called Harvey, was with us. After 10 miles or so Harvey seemed to be flagging. She…

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The Problem with Management Information

By James Lawther | July 24, 2012

My local taxi company has been taken over.  It has been bought out by Taxi-Rank Services PLC. They have started to apply big business thinking to a small business. It is a revelation. As you know, “what gets measured gets managed” so the first job, post take-over, was to apply a little science to their…

Private jet red carpet

Using data to become a millionaire

By Bernie | December 5, 2011

It’s hard to believe, but many companies still see the data they collect as “a drain on IT systems” I really recommend reading this item on the couple behind the Tesco Clubcard scheme. It’s a brilliant tale of using high quality data to give a huge competitive advantage (“it is estimated that since its introduction…

water cooler indicator lights

“Compressor on”, how to label your reports more clearly

By Bernie | December 1, 2011

I just poured myself a cup of water from the water chiller. I noticed that it helpfully offers two temperatures of water and has a little light with “Compressor on” next to it. Why would you put this on a customer facing display? What they really mean is “this water cooler is working and cooling…

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Design Principles for an Effective Management Control System

By Bernie | November 29, 2011

Here’s a 30 second guide to what makes up a management control system. A clear set of strategic objectives A method for translating strategic objectives into practical measures and KPIs that every person in the organisation can affect in some tangible way Trusted, clear and accurate management information. Produced in timely way, to the right…

broken cable modem

Buying rugs and broken broadband connections

By Bernie | October 6, 2011

There’s something curious happens when you write a number down. It somehow becomes “official”. I realised this a few years ago when haggling for rugs in India. The traders would write down the figure on a piece of paper and show it to you when you were haggling. I naively assumed this was to avoid…

CCTV camera

Spooks, Star Trek and KPIs

By Bernie | September 22, 2011

Like 4.6 million other people, I enjoy Spooks. I do find myself wincing a bit when Harry, or whoever, makes completely random requests of his spy geeks and they always come up with the goods – you know the kind of thing – “can you cross reference that train ticket with his gardening bill and…

shave gel

Razor burn and pseudoscience

By Bernie | September 7, 2011

I tend to get sore skin if I shave with the wrong type of shaving gel. I’ve finally found a shaving gel that works (Nivea for Men, Sensitive, in case you are asking). What the hell has this got to do with KPIs? Well you can buy at least a dozen different brands of shaving…

Cabinet war room graphs

Who needs computers?

By Bernie | September 5, 2011

I was in the Cabinet War Rooms a little while ago (the bunker where Churchill ran his WWII operations – for anyone not familiar). Something that struck me was the universal use of really clear, concise and well thought out charts, graphs and maps. Here’s a shot of one:   The key on this graph…