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Why some KPIs are like pasta makers

An unloved pasta maker, just like mine

Do you have a kitchen gadget that sits in your cupboard that you never use? I do. Mine is a pasta maker. Why do I keep it? Well it’s an expensive piece of kit, it might come in useful and someone else may need to use it. So it gets pushed into a corner of a little used cupboard and becomes a “zombie gadget”

I see this exact same behaviour with clients and their measures. Do you have measures on your dashboards and reports that:
  • You don’t really know who uses them
  • You have never used them yourself
  • You aren’t convinced are useful at all
  • You are nervous about getting rid of that KPI or measure as you think someone may use it
How do you deal with “Zombie KPIs”?
It’s a bit like dealing with an unloved pasta maker:
  • Decide what you are really trying to do: map your strategy into KPIs (our Results Onion is one method, but there are others). This gives you a map showing all you key KPIs and how they link to your strategic objectives.
  • Give key stakeholders a court of appeal – it could be vital and you just don’t know about it. A KPI being “interesting” just doesn’t cut it
  • If it doesn’t contribute to your strategy, it’s not vital (e.g. a legal requirement) and it doesn’t get a stay of execution – bin it.
If binning the KPI is all a bit to scary, then you can try gradual withdrawal. Keep collecting the KPI for a while but take it out circulation progressively. If a compelling reason for keeping it unexpected pops up, you have the data you need to easily reinstate the KPI. Just make sure you set the deadline for ditching the KPI if the gradual withdrawal is successful.

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