Measurement and Unforeseen Results LO10010

Cherry Vanderbeke (
Tue, 17 Sep 1996 17:02:44 +1200

Replying to LO9873 --

Keith Cowan in LO9873 said:

"So, [] dramatic improvements can be had by simple measurements. Now I
happen to believe that measuring forecasted accuracy in product sales
generates undesirable side effects. That is the subject for another time.
This is why systems thinking is so critical."

It is now "another time" and this subject of side effects and unforeseen
results is of great interest to me! Thanks for raising it, Keith.

In my experience measurement often seems to be the thing that gets
"slapped on" at the end of a project or some other change, without proper
thinking through. Worse still, the old measurements are just left in
place, because people are focusing on the guts of the change rather than
what else is needed to support it. Like others here, I see measurement as
a powerful change lever and the beginning of a new way of working. And
measurement can show people going through change how far they've come, how
far is left to go, that the change has happened (and that the undergrowth
has not grown back over the forest clearing they made last month!)

And I fully agree that we don't always get the results we expect... Eric
Bohlman and Rol Fessenden have also pointed this out.

A thought... In other areas of my work I have started using and
recommending what I call "consequence management", ie. asking the question,
"what will be the consequences if we do this?" If we apply this to a
proposed new measurement, we would ask questions like -
- How will people react initially to this new measurement - when it's
announced, when it's first implemented?
- What behaviour will it encourage?
- Will it encourage the behaviour we want?
- What different ways might people find to achieve this measurement?
- Are all of those ways desirable?
- What will the results of the measurement actually TELL us?, (eg. Fred
handled 40 calls today against 60 last month - does that mean he's slower
or just spending more time selling to each customer???)
- How will people react if they achieve the measurement? etc. etc.

I think this type of questioning might help people start to see the
"system" that is operating (or the system that they might be _creating_
with a new measurement!) Particularly if you can draw a systems diagram to
illustrate the inter-relationship of the likely behaviours and events.

Any other thoughts, anyone? What experience do others have of designing,
developing, implementing, refining new measurements?



Cherry Vanderbeke, Wang New Zealand Limited Email: "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do"

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