Much of my early career is rooted in a simple, but powerful observation: organizations that set concrete targets perform better than those who set relative or abstract ones, regardless if those concrete targets are actually met. (Amazingly, as far as I could tell at the time, nobody else had made that observation in public policy.)

A clearly defined Key Performance Indicator (KPI) with a clear, concrete goal, can focus organizational energy towards that goal, and help an organization optimize their efforts.

I champion the notion that Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are the dependent variables that matter to the businesses direct goals. This means that all other ‘metrics’, all 4 million of them out there, are independent variables that may, or may not, have a causal effect on those dependent variables.

This is the key. This is the key to navigating in the ocean of data. You can tell, with a properly set up web analytics tool, an analytics system, and a statistical package – which variables matter. Which variables are predictors of future behavior. Which variables bring greater clarity to how the business is performing.

Bringing this together is, at present, not easy. But it’s worth it.

Without any sort of analytics tools and strategy, an organization will have a harder time focusing on goals and a much harder time optimizing.

It’s like sailing in and out of port through fog without instrumentation and a GPS. It’s not impossible to navigate without instrumentation. I just wouldn’t do it.

Would you?

2 thoughts on “A succinct case for measurability and concrete goals

  1. Jen says:

    Unsurpisingly, I agree completely. It makes perfect sense that if you start out by saying “We’re trying to get over there” and then build a plan to get there, you will be more successful than if you don’t know where you want to go in the first place. If I am going to walk from Dallas to have lunch with you in Toronto … I could at least start going north! (though I may want to plan ahead and consider a car – nevermind.) And, no, the adage about reaching for the stars and getting to the moon or whatever is NOT apt. There are way too many freakin’ stars! 😛 At least pick one!

  2. 🙂

    There’s something to be said for focus.

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