Chatting with a client the other day I was describing how some management teams, without a disciplined method to select and choose measures, will add extra measures into the collection, “just to make things clearer”. A problem that results in measure mania.
He choose took a different angle and moved the conversation onto the specific few measures, the Key performance Indicators (KPIs) and associated targets, that the management team had to meet. He was describing how his management team would choose their KPIs for the year, set targets and then have their performance judged against these standards at the end of the year.
One problem he say was “just like the conversation he had with his wife at 10:00pm on a Friday night”. At 10:00pm the idea of having yet another beer seems perfectly reasonable. What harm can it do? His wife would advise him against it, but he would go ahead. However the next morning his wife would be proved right. The reason for not having that beer would be perfectly clear, in contrast to his head.
Management teams behave exactly the same way. What harm can their be adding another KPI into the mix? At the time they are designed it seems perfectly reasonable to add another one in the mix. However come the morning, when you have to deliver the targets associated with these KPIs, things take on a different light. The poorly chosen KPI can actually distort behaviour, especially if it is linked to incentives.
Unfortunately there is little you can do after drinking that extra beer. It is in your system until it works its way out. In contrast the unfortunate extra KPI has to be removed formally, along with its target.
Design in haste – repent at leisure. Or perhaps this management team needs the equivalent of this person’s a caring wife, giving good advice that they actually take notice of.