There is a business cliché that says “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. This statement has been around for some time and the concept of managing by measuring is widely accepted. The principle behind the statement is that success is possible if there is clarity to start with.
Performance management is typically associated with the statement “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. An entire business, a business process or function, or individual staff members can be more effectively managed if key performance indicators are tracked and compared to a performance target.
A slight variation of the statement talks to continuous improvement, “If you don’t measure it, you won’t know if it improves”. All too often businesses embark on improvement initiatives without measuring the performance before the change is implemented. If we don’t know what was happening before the change, how will we know if there was improvement after the change? It is also important that not only the outcome is measured, but also that the inputs (or levers, i.e. those things that will be changed) are identified and measured. Without knowing which change and how much of it affected the outcome, how do we know if there was real, controllable and repeatable improvement?
The principle can also be applied in staff training and development by stating “If you can’t explain it, you can’t teach it”. The induction of new staff is often done by existing staff that often have limited experience, understanding or ability themselves. This means the new staff can only have the same (or lower) ability as the existing staff. It is better for new staff to be inducted by using procedures which document best practices and clearly defined job descriptions.
Being intentional and by putting in some effort at the start of any endeavour will bring the necessary clarity. Getting clarity up-front certainly does not guarantee success. However without it, the chances of success are greatly reduced. So, unlock the door to success with the key of clarity.