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How can choosing the right metrics bring your strategy to life?

Published on 27 April 2020

How can choosing the right metrics bring your strategy to life?

There is a responsibility on all of us here – the planner, business leader, quality coach or team manager as much as the MI Analyst. Imagine yourself as an MI chef. You could create a buffet, putting out lots of dishes and letting people choose what they want. Yet this creates waste and a buffet rarely contains the best, because you don’t have time. By contrast, top chefs focus on selecting a few carefully balanced ingredients to create something special and memorable. Yes, there is still a place for the tasting menu, when you want to experiment, for the right audience. Otherwise, carefully select and refine the information you share, so that your creation drives the very best results and action. 

Align metrics to strategy
Do all metrics have a clearly understood purpose and support a strategy? Review what you produce, using the strategy pyramid (on the previous page). By creating the strategy framework, linking performance and operational measures to it, you can be sure you have the right information in your dashboards, with a clear structure. Putting the KPIs at the top level gives a balanced scorecard. We can then drill down into the metrics that link to the supporting delivery strategies.

Track and measure the inputs
For each strategy, think what needs to happen. What could block this? Find out how to track this. What do you measure? How do you find the data? Next, consider if this is something you can track or control – operational measures that need to be managed. For factors outside our control, external measures can be used to predict and plan for the impacts (consequences). This makes the data relevant and most likely to drive appropriate action. Not all measures will be part of a performance dashboard, but planners, analysts and other teams can use this information for their commentary. 

Focus on your audience
As an end user, reports are far easier to use if they only show me the information for the work I am involved in and can influence. So, use the pyramid to map the key stakeholders for each strategy. Understand who owns this strategy and who delivers things that feed into it. If we filter and refine our reports or create personalised views of a master report, we can focus our audience on just the information they need. Let people drill down to see individual trees but show them the wood first and paint a few pictures of things you know will really excite them! 

Focus on the outcome
Finally, work back from the outcome. What do we expect to happen? What are the consequences of variance in any particular measure – if it goes above or below a particular trigger point for instance. Are certain success measures put at risk? Is this a key step towards success in one particular area? Is this a significant change from previous weeks (or months)? Data becomes meaningful when we can show why it matters and what you need to do about it. 

Be clear what each metric exists for
There is rarely a single dictionary of metrics in our organisations, so it’s far too easy to end up with conflicting versions of the truth. We need to take time to agree and document these in an easy-to-use manner.  

  • Name. Unique unambiguous, compelling and easily understood
  • Purpose. What strategy is this supporting? And the benefits of this?
  • Target. What’s the desired outcome? Inc time & target type
  • Ownership. Who owns producing this? Who takes action? What? 
  • Calculation. Show formula & sources of data. Explain anything that is potentially complicated or confusing. How and when is this produced?
  • Risks & controls. How could this be misused or misunderstood? If we focus on this in isolation what is going to give? What other measures are needed to balance this?
Join us in our Learning Academy to learn more about effective ways of setting success measures and targets for your business or your team.

This article was first published in the 2020 Best Practice Guide - 2020 Vision: Crystallising your knowledge

To download a full digital copy of the Best Practice Guide, click here

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Author: Leanne McNamee

Categories: Library, Data, Analytics & Insight

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