My problem with ‘what gets measured gets done!’

The problem with ‘what gets measured gets done!’

We hear the phrase constantly. Maybe not in so many words, but we hear it, live it, and we are held accountable by the very echo of the words.

“What gets measured get done.”

My guess is that you are living with some form of this right now. My other guess is that you have some smart-ass manager that ploughs his career pathway using this mentality. You know who I mean here.

And for my third guess. I am putting my money on the fact that you would love to throat punch that frigging manager to the extent that you will have to save his life by tracheotomy using that red biro pen sitting on your desk.

It is just my hunch, but it’s based on observing many a meeting over my lifetime. So many meetings engaged in the discovery conversation on the nature and detail of the measurement.

My take on measurement being the one and all for this person is driven by observing the actions of what I call the limited leader. The leader that has only one tool in their toolbox that they always like to use, and that tool is often a gun. 

You know that type. 

The insipid leader that drags out the ever-increasing balanced scorecard to use as a way to drive the performance by highlighting the underperforming entities and comparing them to the achievers. The same approach that delivers a ‘healthy’ competition and allows the subliminal engagement of leadership by fear. That place where dreams go to die. The environment where no one shares ideas and the effort is placed on the relief that you are not singled out, and you survive another week. Only to face another hurdle over the following week’s scorecard. 

Tell me, why did you miss that target – explain, NOW!

Oh, thank you to the beautiful 1990s as you gave us a lot of invention, from Nirvana to Tamagotchi, so many life-changing moments and none more so than the Balanced Scorecard.

A shoe shop in Beijing.

The wonderfully balanced scorecard that has been out of balance since the day of its conception. The formula 1 of measurement. The king, Queen and Jack of how to get things done. Throw in the ace for good measure. The beautiful and fair scorecard.

I should clarify at this point that I am not anti measurement. What I am is pro-action and conversation. I am curious to discover the what, why and where behind the results so they can be replicated. I am super keen to dig into the detail and see if the results are backed up by more than just the goodwill of circumstance. And if there is a groundbreaking strategy that sets the achievers so far apart from the underperformed. If so, then share the damn strategy for the greater good.

But NOPE, that is not going to happen 99% of the time because of one simple fact that I have come to realise, and that is…

Everyone focuses on the MEASUREMENT and not the DONE.

As for the successful 1% – they go on to rule the world. They get the things DONE.

Deservedly so!!


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