Consider how often you start a task or set a goal without defining a strategic way to measure the preferred outcome. Sometimes it’s a simple oversight. At other times, we don’t measure because we fear the result won’t be what we expect it to be.
It’s also true that we can have shifting definitions of success. When something doesn’t go as planned, we may be tempted to redefine the win and rationalize an unexpected (and non-vision-driven) outcome.
The right measures clarify the win in your personal, professional and organizational worlds. They also combat vision drift and misalignment in 2 strategic ways:
- They focus on outputs vs. inputs. Inputs tell you what ingredients go in to something. Outputs tell you what comes out on the other side. Move beyond simple input measures to the more significant outcomes you’re aiming for.
- They measure quantitative vs. qualitative success. Qualitative measures are subjective and experiential. Quantitative measures, or metrics, are objective and numerical. In most cases, quantitative measures are the best way to measure outcomes without bias.
Remember that measures aren’t goals. Measures are an objective way to express the size, quantity or degree of something. Goals are a numerical objective and desired result for the measures you set. Both are important, but goals won’t mean much if you don’t measure the right things.
Clarify the win in 5 quick steps:
- Define success with measurable outcomes (metrics). Measure with quantitative and objective outcomes. Use unambiguous metrics to paint a clear picture of action plan results.
- Select the right measures. Align measures with organizational vision and values. Think beyond inputs to outputs.
- Record the results. Devote time to evaluating and measuring your plans. If you complete a task or goal, plan some time to compare it against the strategic measures you set.
- Track data trends. Trends show where you are in relation to your past and can be a predictor of future growth (or decline). Read measures intelligently and watch for important trends indicating health, effectiveness and relevance.
- Make measures-driven adjustments. Honest measures indicate one of two things. Either you’ve accomplished your goal or you haven’t. Either you’re moving in an upward trend or you’re not. Make adjustments based on measured results.
So what’s the Big Idea?
Clarify the win. Measuring what you do is the only way you know you’re accomplishing something important.