I believe it all started when someone in an operations meeting said “that which gets measured, gets done”. Everyone agreed that things should get done, so it was decided to measure everything. They needed a name for the program that would impress the CEO. “Yardstick” was suggested, but the operating groups in South America, Asia, and-- well, pretty much everywhere outside the US and UK-- they didn’t know what that meant. So, the global consensus was “metrics”.
Thus began “metrics mania”. Organizations formed task forces, CEOs insisted it was a top priority, and the business press touted metrics as the new leading edge.
I am an avid supporter of metrics. My paycheck results from deploying software that uses metrics to simplify management and enhance performance of massive scale IT service management/assurance infrastructures.
It’s just that organizations become seduced by trends and lose context. (Remember BPR?). This link is to an article that brought that into focus.
The message that had the most impact for me was: “Metrics are indeed important indicators; however, they are merely that: indicators. Don’t get seduced by metrics. Without the right context and understanding, metrics do not add value in determining what decisions need to be made, nor what actions to take to drive continuous improvement.”
At Softential, we create metrics for some of the most complex IT infrastructures on the planet. The simple context for these complex environments are: is the metric constructed to measure what is of value to the end-user, is the right data feeding the metric, and will trends from that metric provide insight on how to improve the value delivered.
That makes a good yardstick.
Director of Business Development