“What gets measured, gets managed” is a quote that is debated and there are even those who claim Peter Drucker never even said it. Well, why do we even debate something that sounds so fundamental? I think we do because too many times we assume that because we are measuring, that we are managing. Think of things in terms of value and better yet, sustainable value. Ask the key questions; are we measuring the right things, and are they providing us with opportunities to improve? Maybe this is why there is a debate; because what we measure might not be providing us with any ability to respond, therefore providing no benefit or purpose to manage.
When we determine what to measure, we should be very clear on the short- and long-term objectives for what it is we are measuring. We should be able to respond or make a change to the measurement criteria so that we can maintain or even improve. If we are measuring performance, we should utilize it in terms of either maintaining a standard of performance or improving our performance (to remain competitive). If we measure and do not respond, then there is no management. So, the quote should maybe be more direct and should read “What gets measured, should be able to be managed for the purposes of achieving well establish objectives”.
In my experiences in different industries, I have seen far too often key performance indicators in place that simply provided a measure with no or little response plan. If we consider our business objectives, we should be able to work backwards and determine what key things are needed in order to achieve the objectives as efficiently and cost-effectively as we can. If the value is telling us we have achieved our objective, then our response might be to set new objectives to become more competitive. The point being our measurements should be evolving to keep us on a path of continuous improvement.
We need to assess frequently what we measure to ensure our measurements are current and still providing opportunities. We may also recognize the need for new measurements to help us stay fresh and competitive. Otherwise, our measurements can become dormant and provide no benefit. Management of these measurements requires a process to review and ensure the validity and that benefits are in place. An assessment process might involve scrutinizing a current measurement to ensure it is always providing the benefits that it was originally set out to achieve and look for opportunities to improve. Measure what we are measuring.
So, when it comes down to setting up performance measurements or any type of benefit or opportunity based measurement structure; ensure it has a purpose and adds value. Make sure that you can stand behind the quote "What gets measured, gets managed" because there is a well-defined process to develop and sustain your measurement approach. In the end, it really does not matter if Peter Drucker said it or not; but rather that we see it as something that can provide benefits and growth if it is set up properly. And that it is viewed as a driving force in your ongoing success as an individual, as a team, and as an organization.