Other Measurement Considerations
• Measurements must be consistent with the
company's vision and objectives. They must support those policies,
procedures, practices that the company decides will achieve the
• The chosen measurements should be generated
easily, and often can be from data already being collected. Good
measurement data is consistently gathered by the same people,
the same way, and at regular intervals, as determined by the
frequency requirements of decisions.
• The measurements must support the drive to
positive action. If all shoes require the same amount of labor,
maximizing the consumption of leather tends to force an excess of
size thirteen shoes. Minimizing leather consumption, yields more
size six shoes. Which is the positive result, or is it something
else? Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.
• Set stretch goals that are out of reach,
but not out of sight. People respond to challenges, not to
impossibilities. The pursuit of perfection (Zero Inventory)
becomes an excuse to fail. When a goal is reached, celebrate the
accomplishment and reset the goal to the next level.
• Develop benchmarks that show the starting
points, and milestones that demonstrate progress. At some point,
a change is validated by achieving a milestone. Then it can be
documented as a permanent change.
• Daily and weekly reporting instigates
actions. If short-term milestones aren't met, corrective action is
indicated. Monthly reporting shows trends and a negative direction
calls for investigation and correction.
• Measures must match the scope and
span-of-control of the people involved. The best way of assuring
this is to co-develop the measure with the people who participate
in the process being measured.
• To get a consensus on the measure, make
sure there is a clear definition of it. What and Why are we
measuring? Who collects the data, and who does any calculations?
Who reads the numbers, and what might they do? How and where do we
collect data? How often and when do we collect data?
• To keep the consensus, there must be an
absolutely objective calculation (no massaging). Footnotes to
explain unusual spikes are acceptable, but if the same footnote
appears frequently, some action should be taken.
• Reward successes and coach failures.
Expectations must be understood and agreed to by the process
participants. Accountability means managers must delegate
sufficient resources and authority to do the job, and the
work-force must accept the responsibility to get it done.
Things to Watch for
Unexplained spikes in any measurement should
warrant footnotes. Probable causes are bad data or calculations
notes. Probable causes are bad data or
calculations (massaged), or an unusual event. Check the method of
gathering, calculation, or reporting.
Missing data may indicate lost cooperation or
motivation. If you don't investigate, you demonstrate that the
measure isn't important. Again, check the method of gathering,
calculation, or reporting.
Attitudes can be poor about a specific
measurement, or for the whole effort. Know which is causing
problems, they are markedly different problems and require very
different solutions. Try to convert a must do it to a want
to do it by improving understanding and being as objective as
Any measurement has carrot-versus-stick
implications. Measurements are sometimes used to justify prior
opinions. Measurements should acknowledge inherent conflicts among
functions and people and should not put a job or career in
danger, or strengthen existing kingdoms.
Multiple formats and items left out or added
indicate a lack of consensus on the original measurement(s).
Comparisons and decisions are hampered by attitudes of I'm
special! This measure obviously doesn't 't apply to me. I need
more data, less data, a different format, etc. Early
leadership intervention will prevent an explosion of conflicting
signals and strengthen the consensus on priorities.
We don't have unlimited resources, but most of
us recognize the need to improve. The increasingly competitive
environment demands we do something now. Successful companies will
find a way to prioritize improvements and leverage their time and
money for the quickest impact.
There is great difficulty in comparing the
impact of problems and activities among business functions
traditionally measured via different criteria. This can be
minimized by developing a common methodology of analysis and using
an agreed on unit of measure.
The Cost of Un-Quality calculates the total impact by finding
cost of an individual event and multiplying it by its frequency of
occurrence. Expressed as money or time, this measure can
compare line and staff problems and rank their priority for
action. The costs of potential solutions can also be compared to
their corresponding problems to see if the net savings are worth
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