Learning Organizations Measure
There is an old saying that is still in circulation, but is it really what we mean to say?
“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.” ~ Ayn Rand
There are other statements out there that are just a variation on this theme. A school board in New Britain, CT uses a similar statement for their mission that states “If It’s Worth Doing At All, It’s Worth Doing Exceptionally Well.” But the critical question is: How do you know if “it” is worth doing? What is that elusive “it” that is worth all the doing and overdoing? In order to find “it” you need to be able to define “it” and then measure “it”.
Most companies in this country, like ours, are fundamentally service companies; striving to meet the needs of our clients. Services are our “it” and that is what we try to do exceptionally well. But how do you know if you’re doing it exceptionally well? You have to measure, adjust, and re-measure.
A simple service analogy to use is a call center. There are some key performance indicators (KPI) metrics that you can measure to determine if you are providing exceptional service:
- Queue wait times.
- First call resolution percentage.
- Call transfer and escalation rates.
- Survey results.
Measuring is the first part of the process. After you’ve identified your measurements, you must now establish your tolerance for error and also how you define success.
- Queue wait times; less than 2 minutes in the queue.
- First call resolution percentage; 80% resolution rate.
- Call transfer and escalation rates; 35% transfer and escalation.
- Survey results. I might argue that the survey results after the call center provide good qualitative feedback but might lack in the quantitative measurements. Perhaps it’s best to use these subjective tools for specific customer follow up and employee measurement.
Knowing your KPI is critical to improving your ability to learn and improve as an organization. When you measure, monitor and adjust the KPI’s, your organization can learn if a training program made a service impact. You can evaluate if the new technology or staffing addition made an impact on your “it”. Data Analytics plays a huge role in KPI analysis, trends, etc. but you need to define and develop an overall business strategy; this will serve as a guidepost that will be a beacon in the data to keep the analysis on track. By identifying these KPI you know ahead of time what needs to be measured; you are able to align processes, technology, and/or procedures in place to collect the right data. For larger organizations, Big Data comes into play very quickly as you start collecting large amounts of data. Before you know it, you have enormous amounts of data to analyze; that can lead you away from your guidepost and down into the squirrel holes; which are the nemesis of productivity.
When developing a product, providing a service, or just brainstorming in general, it is key to think strategically and build into your strategy how you measure the “it” that differentiates you from your competitors. When you brainstorm think about the “requirements” vs. the “nice to do’s”; this will help to identify your KPIs at the onset. Once you are able to measure “it”, you are able to learn as an organization. Constant innovation in an agile environment creates a feedback loop so you become an evolving and learning organization that changes when you observe trends in these measurements. After you have your measurement trends only then do you have the ability to define “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing exceptionally well.”
If anything is worth doing, it is worth measuring. Are you ready?