Pick the right metric

The notion of measuring our work is deeply embedded by now. Whether we answer to a boss, the public markets, a board of directors, or a team of peers, we know we need to be able to report how we did.

But are we picking the right metrics? Are we measuring the right things, are we looking at the outcomes that actually relate to our objectives and the success of our endeavours?

Picking the right metric can be tricky, but it’s worth pushing past the obvious and getting at metrics that really correspond to our needs.

I was speaking with a client recently about an event they are planning to put on. Their main purpose is to increase their overall engagement with the people who attend. They were thinking of measuring success based on the number of people who attend, but that’s only part of their objective, isn’t it? Why not measure the engagement of the people who attend the event, compared to the people who don’t? It’s not like we don’t have the data these days.

If you can’t come up with the one thing that you absolutely have to achieve in order to say that something “worked” – you need to think about why you are doing it.

Forget for a minute how you might measure it. Or whether the data exists to measure it accurately. Just focus on what the true key to success is.

Did you want to make sure a whole bunch of people are aware of what you offer, but lukewarm about it? Or did you want to create a small group of raving fanatics? Do you need to be extremely efficient in delivering a service from a cost perspective, or from a client perspective? Do you want quality, quantity, intensity, or something else?

If you’ve seen or read Moneyball, you know what I’m talking about – it’s a fantastic movie and an even better book, which tells the story of how different use of measurement, used by a baseball team with an extremely limited budget, changed the game. It takes place in a data-rich environment – even a casual baseball fan talks about batting averages and earned run averages. Pure measurement wasn’t the problem. Picking and using the measures that really make a difference to success was the problem.

The Oakland A’s were able to outthink their competition so that their relative poverty didn’t matter. (Or at least didn’t matter so much.) And that was because they focused on the most relevant measures for their outcome – it wasn’t how many home runs someone hit that led to wins, it was how often they just got on base.

Where can you be smarter about what you measure? What are you paying attention to that you shouldn’t? Where are there opportunities for you to outthink your competition – or your own past self?

If you’d like to discuss how we can help you think about your strategic objectives – and how to figure out if you are reaching them – please get in touch.

Image from Creative Commons.

Contact us at meredith@meredithlow.com or call 416-737-3935 to discuss how we might be able to help.


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