Click here to preview the new Fast Company

Want to try out the new

If you’d like to return to the previous design, click the yellow button on the lower left corner.

Making Measurements

"What gets measured gets done."
Peter F. Drucker, management icon

From Fast Company's recently released book, The Rules of Business: 55 Essential Ideas to Help Smart People (and Organizations) Perform At Their Best

Add New Comment


  • removed removed

    This was great advice in 1954 when "measurement was the weakest area in the work of the manager today".

    Now it is arguably the strongest and, all to often, interpreted as "The only things that get done is that which can be measured".

    I suspect the the advice may now be more useful as a cautionary tale:

    "What gets measured gets done?"

  • removed removed

    If you are having trouble narrowing down the number of job candidates, try this technique. Be like Donald Trump when hiring new talent for your organization. The more rigorous the selection system, the more people will feel committed to your organization.

  • removed removed

    A well known statement and one which suffers from its familiarity.

    By that I mean, at least for many organisations, it is the measurement rather than anything else takes precedence.

    When we think about how we can measure performance there are four main approaches:

    input - what we put in
    output - what we get out
    process - how we did it
    outcome - the difference it makes (if at all)

    An example to explain:

    In the UK public sector politicians say we must set targets to reform it.

    eg measure the time it takes to get to an emergency call for an ambulance (8 mins in some areas) Does that in itself mean anything. What about quality of care compared to quantity?

    Input - we have invested £100m in the health service
    Output - employed x more doctors and y more nurses
    Process - followed good recruitment practice
    Outcome ? is the nation any healthier and why are a number of hospital doctors unable to get jobs.

    A US example maybe the so called war on terrorism - has bombing Iraq had the outcome desired or has terrorism increased?

    Problem for a lot of organisations is that they ignore outcome preferring to concentrate on something that is more easily measurable (input and output).

    Where outcome is chosen then that is more likely about growth and quality. The easy way to make the leap is to ask "So what?" and move from a closed operational though process to a holistic strategic approach.

    So why is it so difficult.

    Perhaps for politicians it could be to do with timescale - in that demonstrating the linkage of input/output to outcome takes a while - and maybe to enhance the health of a nation is a lot longer than the effective 2 years of activity in a four year election cycle.



  • removed removed

    OK Kevin we get it.

    How did you get stuck with the odious task of pimping this book of yours so hard? It is a good read. However, if I had have known you would be posting a quote from it on a daily basis, I wouldn't have bought it.

    Readers, please buy this book so that Kevin can move on to more exciting works. Or even better, Kevin put the entire thing up at once so we can move on. Thanks.