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Measuring the Importance of Simplicity


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There is the adage, what gets measured, gets done. You will have seen examples of this, over and over again, where it proved to be true.


It could be as simple as the list of things you create for yourself to get done or it could be the measures you have in your workplace to ensure you are on track.


On the other hand, you may find now that some of those measures are no longer yielding the results they once were. Why would this be?


For any workplace, the challenge comes in understanding what to measure. In today’s information capture and driven world, we have the potential to measure literally thousands of different things. People measure the number of steps they take, the length of time it takes to get something done, the number of times you buy a particular product, etc. Every time you add a new piece of software or a new system, part of the features will be what you will now be able to measure, to track and to compile data.


The old adage is true. The art of measuring is intended to direct your focus and thereby ensure you achieve a result. It wasn’t the act of measuring that created the result, it was the alignment of focus in measuring that created it. So what happens if you are measuring everything? You guessed it…information overload generally resulting in paralysis.


The strength in measuring performance is in the simplicity. Here are some steps to help you ensure you are getting the most out of your measurement systems;

  • Start with the end in mind – Identify what is the single most important thing to achieve and make sure it is specific...set a goal or target. If you want to increase the margin you are getting on your sales, then identify your key products and the specific increases you want to achieve for each product.

  • List the variables – Brainstorm all the variables that are impacting that thing you are wanting to achieve. Use your team and come up with an exhaustive list. In the case of the margin used previously, it could be things like freight charges, supplier costs, material used, amount of scrap or rework, labour costs, etc. All of these have an impact on your margin.

  • Select the heavy hitters – Identify no more than three variables (preferably one) that, if measures\d, would have the largest impact on achieving the result. In the case of margin, you might select freight charges.

  • Setup the means to measure - Establish your baseline and put in place the measuring mechanism, reporting structure and identify who is responsible for driving this measure. All your improvement and brainstorming efforts need to be around how do you make an impact on this one measure.

  • Eliminate the other measures – Some of you may not like this, but remember it is about focus. Eliminate the other measures until you have achieved your results with the ones you identified. Stubbornly focus on the one and understand that if you have identified the top variables correctly, then you will achieve the desired result without muddying the water.

  • Repeat the process – Remember that you are ever evolving, whether as an individual or in your company. As you achieve a result in one area, you will identify challenges in another. As you get your result, be prepared to tackle the next and this means your measurements will need to change.

Simplicity drives results. Focus drives results. Measure the critical and you will find that the results will fall into place. More importantly you will tell your employees what specifically is important, besides them!