Saturday, 16 January 2016

'What gets measured, gets done'

Photo credit: Wikipedia
You may not be familiar with the face of this stern-looking gentleman. However, you are probably aware of his often quoted phrase 'what gets measured, gets done'. More correctly, Lord Kelvin's statement was actually 'what gets measured, gets managed', but the statement rings true none-the-less.

I've recently been working with a client on a process to measure the impact of their new Knowledge Management programme. Measuring what are sometimes intangible effects is always tricky, but as Lord Kelvin advocated, necessary and worthwhile. We've set-up a maturity modelling process to provide the metrics* associated with their knowledge-sharing activity, collaborative behaviour and effectiveness of communities of practice. We are applying quantitative measures to a qualitative effect:

  • To know how far you have come, you need a baseline to measure from 
  • To know where you want to go, you must have a target 
  • To move from baseline to target you must determine actions, timescales and resources 

Photo credit: HBS Archive
In the1920's Elton Mayo, an Australian born sociologist, did study at the Hawthorne, Chicago works of Western Electric, to see if varying the lighting affected workers' productivity. What he found was that the very act of observing the workers, had an effect on their productivity. This phenomenon was named the 'Hawthorne Effect'. It has been interesting working with my client's managers on defining their maturity model definitions, current levels and targets; their involvement from the start seems to be following the Hawthorne Effect, supporting 'what gets measured, gets managed'.

In May, I'm running a KIN Roundtable at HM Treasury in London on 'Measurement and Demonstrating Value'. I'm sure these topics will feature in the discussions.

* Do you know the difference between a measure and metric?

  • A measure is one quantitative number or amount. e.g. We made £100,000 profit in the last quarter.
  • A metric compares the measure to a baseline. e.g. We made £100,000 profit last quarter, £10,000 more than the same quarter last year.

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