10 Strategic Steps to Measure What Matters

Stop measuring things that don’t matter. Start measuring what matters.

Yesterday at the Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit, author, speaker, and former CEO of HP Carly Fiorina (@CarlyFiorina) reminded everyone about the importance of measuring. Today, the topic came up heavily in the morning sessions here in Chicago as well.

Stop measuring things that don't matter. Start measuring what matters. Click To Tweet

The basic truth: we measure what matters.

A few important questions before we dive in:
– Is the pet project that matters to you what truly matters to the organization?
– Is what currently matters what should matter?
– How can you foster alignment of what matters to individuals with what matters to your organization?

Measure What Matters

If you are used to measuring what you do or if you aren’t sure what should matter, take a look at the process below. As we coach leaders, this process helps leaders gain clarity in terms of focus, strategy, metrics, and much more. But more than focus, this process helps leaders restore quality-of-life to their daily routine as they do less and yet do more.

1) Decide to measure what matters

Unless you decide to measure what matters, an outside consultant, a coach, mentor, or whatever approach you take will not yield results. Leaders are good at reorganizing things and finding themselves in the same spot. If I’m honest, I have made this mistake many times myself.

Make a decision today to measure and celebrate what truly matters to you and your organization.

2) Define what matters

If you don’t define what matters, you and those around you will assume everyone shares the same goals and priorities. Rarely do teams have that level of alignment without intentionality. It is impossible to measure what matters if the team is unclear about what things actually do matter.

3) Identify what you are currently measuring

Leaders often struggle with this one. I think most leaders can easily define what they are measuring. However, it can be painful to see written down the things that you’re actually measuring.

A simple example of this is your website. Many people are proud that they have consistently written a different blog post each day for the past however many years. But what does that say about you and your goals? Are there better things to measure? What if you measured traffic to your website? Or even better, what if you measured engagement, subscriptions, new clients, and other sales? Measuring these things would have a much better effect on the goals of your organization, business, or church.

4) Create metrics that matter

Once you’re committed to the process, have defined what matters, and have identified what you are currently measuring, you can start creating metrics to measure what matters. Ask yourself the question, what could we measure that would tell us whether or not we are accomplishing our mission?

Beware that this can be a painful process. Your team likely values what it is currently measuring. Changing what you’re measuring will create instability and a brief chaos.

Measure What Matters

5) Align individual, team, and organizational metrics

Whether you lead a small team or a multi-national corporation, misaligned metric creep into your process and team over time. But even if you create all new metrics as a team, make sure to take it a step further to align your individual, team, and organizational metrics around a common mission and vision.

When you have not only missional metrics but aligned missional metrics your team will start to realize its vision and accomplish the mission.

6) Stop and measure your effectiveness

Unused metrics help as much as an unused exercise bike. If you create metrics and neglect to measure, you’ve wasted your time and reduced your effectiveness.

7) Make mid course corrections

No one creates a perfect system the first time. After you have measured, either change the things you’re doing or the things you are measuring or both. If you commit to measure what matters, you also must commit to refine your work.

8) Celebrate the small victories

One of my early mentors reminded me to celebrate small victories every time I saw him. He realized that life and leadership are hard. He knew that individuals, teams, and organizations could never survive without taking time to celebrate both the small and the large victories.

9) Get feedback from your team

If your team values your mission, they have ideas to improve your strategy, your actions, and your results. Don’t just listen to them. Proactively seek their input.

10) Hold your strategy and your metrics loosely

When you begin to prioritize the strategy over the mission, your results will deteriorate and your strategy will become antiquated. They committed to the mission. Stay flexible with your perspective on your strategy and metrics.

Always remember that returning to step one does not indicate failure but intentionality. If something isn’t working, don’t allow it to continue. Make a change to measure what matters. Walk through this process again.

What would you add to this process? Perhaps your team or organization is partially through this process. What steps do you need to take to move all the way through it and see the results that you, your team, and your organization desire?

Leave a comment below with your replies and let us know what ideas you have to improve this process and start to measure what matters.

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