My colleague Rick Mans recently wrote that information overload was more a case of information gluttony ,a point of view I whole heartedly share. A quick review of your bookmarks will probably expose a list of useful sites that you’ve not visited in years.
The problem manifests itself in other ways, one of which is my pet hate of KPI overload.
I’ve worked with many clients who want to work on the premise of “measure as much as possible as it will reveal meaningful insight”. However this often results in a scatter gun approach based on exploiting available information and seldom delivers any benefit. I try to convince clients of three fundementals when it comes to adding measures to their organisation:
A measure or KPI should influence behaviour – if it doesn’t then it offers little value, and if it does, think through the likely outcomes and non-intuitive behaviours that might result. The then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was caught out when his measure on how long people needed to wait to see their doctor had resulted in some doctors refusing to allow patients to book appointments in the future even though at times this was appropriate (e.g. to review test results) which resulted in a great deal of frustration with patients who could not plan ahead. There are numerous other examples and I’d welcome others to share their experiences.
The second fundemental is that measures should build to something and pull an organisation in the same direction. While it appears to be stating the obvious, the number of clients that come up with measures that appear sensible but don’t actually support their corporate goals doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller. I’ve seen a measure that rewarded the number complaints successfully addressed with no corresponding measure to reduce the actual number of complaints. A framework of measures, allocated appropriately throughout an organisation, and hopefuly not in conflict with each other is required. In essence, see your measures in the context of a portfolio of KPIs.
The third and possibly the hardest point to implement is that when deciding on the measures you need you may run into issues with your organisational structure or operating model. A major distribution company I worked with recently had a desire to demonstrate the performance they provided their large global accounts across a range of measures. On the ground however, each country was measured on its local P&L and these large customers often resulted in a major strain on their resources with little and in some cases negative margain. Consequently the countries often discouraged support of the global accounts and were undermining these global accounts.
While nobody can imagine working in a world without being measured, make sure those measures count and drive the right behaviour and not cause internal conflict or an inappropriate deteriation of customer service. They might then have a chance or working.