The need for process measurability is many times not well understood by managers and leaders within the organization. Even if the manager or leader believes that having a well-defined and repeatable process is important, he or she may not feel that they have enough time to ensure that their metrics are as equally well defined. In this case, the organization is literally “flying blind” if measurable metrics are not being regularly monitored.
Imagine getting into your car to drive to work each day without a working gas gauge to let you know how much fuel is left in the tank. One would literally have to guess when to refill the gas tank in hopes of not running out of gas along the way to work. Likewise, suppose cars came without speedometers, which are used to indicate how fast you are driving at any given point in time. Chances are that you would regularly exceed the speed limit because it would be difficult to judge the speed of the vehicle, especially if there were no other cars on the road against which you could at least estimate your speed.
When some managers are asked if they would prefer to drive to work without a gas gauge and speedometer, their answers are almost always, “Of course not.” They do not understand that these two items are metrics that they heavily depend on as a feedback mechanism to let them know if the car needs fuel and whether or not they are driving at the desired speed. Either way, they are constantly making adjustments based on the feedback they are receiving from these two metrics.
Today, just about everywhere one turns, metrics are used to provide some sort of feedback to help people make informed decisions. For example, many people gauge the performance of a public company by its stock price, earnings per share and related metrics. The unemployment and inflation rates are sometimes used to indicate the health of a country’s economy. Health-conscious individuals may monitor their caloric intake and average weight to ensure that they are meeting their goals in this area. Potential homebuyers monitor the current average percentage of home sales to determine a good time to purchase. Homeowners may monitor mortgage rates to determine a good time to refinance their mortgage. All of these are metrics used to provide feedback for making informed decisions.
Likewise, process measurability is equally important to decision makers in the organization. Having clear process metrics provides vital feedback to members of the organization so that they know how well the organization is performing. As with the dashboard of a car, where the gas gauge and speedometer provide important feedback to the driver, organizations should have dashboards with process metrics to provide important feedback about the health of the organization.
Organizational dashboards that are actively and regularly monitored allow timely corrective actions to be made when needed to ensure the organization is moving in the right direction. Once leaders and managers understand the importance derived from monitoring process measurability, the next critical step is to ensure that the right metrics are being utilized.