Measurements (Not Incentives)

“Tell me how you measure me, and I will tell you how I will behave. If you measure me in an illogical way…do not complain about illogical behavior”.

This quote by Dr. Eli Goldratt, the father of the Theory of Constraints (TOC), speaks directly to the cause and effect power of measurements, and to the general misuse of measurements.

We business managers often struggle to determine what to measure and control, and how to motivate employees. Some of us measure many, many things, while others of us don’t measure much at all.

Think about these questions:
· What problems are we trying to solve by using measurements?
· What and how are we measuring now?
· What problems do we cause by the way we measure now?
· Is there a better way? That is, what should we be measuring and how?

First, let’s set a context for our discussion of measurements by agreeing on the overall objectives of our organization:

  1. Make more money now as well as in the future,
  2. Provide a secure and satisfying environment for employees now as well as in the future, and
  3. Provide satisfaction to the market now as well as in the future.

The challenge is to accomplish all three objectives simultaneously.

One approach to doing so is called “balanced scorecard”. This proposed solution falls into the trap of trying to measure many, many things. It violates the second objective above in that when we measure many things, there will be some things that will look good and others that look bad. Depending upon the management style of the people involved, management can always find something to find fault with employees.

With TOC, we’re interested in ongoing improvement. We aren’t interested in measuring what is going well as much as we are interested in measuring what can be improved.

…to be continued.

Here’s to maximizing YOUR profits!
Dr Lisa Lang

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