Data – it’s not what you think it is – Part 1 – Why we need to measure

You can manage what you can measure. Do you use data well?

Every day, you walk into work and you manage your business life. You have a number of tasks, people who you lead, processes to keep going, and things to get done. Your job description probably does a marginal job at listing some of these things out.

At the end of the day, how do you know you’ve done a good job? How do you know that you were truly productive with your time? Simply put, how do you know today was a good day? Maybe because…

• …the time went by fast?
• …someone didn’t yell at you?
• …nothing broke?
• …a customer said “thank you?”
• …your feet don’t hurt?

In the end, the only way that you can really know if you were effective in your job today is if you MEASURE things effectively. I don’t mean just measuring sales levels. I also mean all of the important tasks and functions that lead up to increasing sales.

If you aren’t measuring, then you’re just guessing at how well you are doing.

Every employee of your company should have daily measurables that they are managing to. If it’s important, it should be measured. If it’s not important… why are you doing it?

• How fast do you answer your phones?
• What is your customer satisfaction level today?
• How long do important contracts sit on your desk?
• Where are the bottlenecks and how long does your process wait?
• How many delays are there when you route contracts?
• How often do you get less than desirable outcomes (errors/mistakes)?

Measured and managed tasks should flow up to employee goals. Employee goals should roll into higher level company goals. Every employee should know how their successful day contributed to the success of the businesses goals. They should be talked about, posted on walls, and celebrated on a regular basis.

When you measure what you manage, every employee knows where they stand and how they are performing. They become engaged in every part of their workday. If you don’t measure, a “good day” for your employee could depend on how hot their coffee is. Is that success to you?

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This is the first of a 4 part blog series on data, its problems, and how to use it to get more value out of your business. It will be followed up with our very first podcast – Process Pitches – where we will be inviting Six Sigma/Lean/data experts and business leaders to share some of their stories from the business world about the struggles leaders have understanding data to its fullest.

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