Stressing the Metrics that Matter

July 20, 2020

As leaders, most of us are flooded with data. Tons of data … and so much of it is not analyzed nor understood. As stated by Chris Brahm, Mark Kovac and Peter Guarraia from Bain and Company, “Given the proliferation of data and the new analytical tools designed to pull insights from it, one might think the measurement of business performance has greatly improved. Unfortunately, that is not always so. Too frequently, we find companies or functions within companies that simply measure the wrong things.”

The challenge for us is to do the important work to understand which metrics really matter—those that tell us what we really need to know about our work, and to build a culture across the organization where staff at all levels are hungry for the information.

A well-defined set of organizational metrics brings an organization together around a common set of goals.

At The Fedcap Group our work is driven by the following overarching goals:

Relevance: A commitment to continuous innovation and modernization. An organization must remain ahead of the curve—understanding the emerging trends in practice, funding and technology and how they impact service design and delivery. We simply cannot do what we have always done. If we do, we may continue to serve problems, but we will not really solve problems. Relevance means that the organization is positioned to thrive regardless of the inevitable twists and turns of the marketplace.

Sustainability: A commitment to long term financial health. None of our work is possible if we don’t remain financially healthy. Sustainability requires that we stay focused on core corporate health indicators, and we build strategies and accompanying structures to ensure our short and long-term financial health. Sustainability advances our ability to innovate and stay relevant.

Impact: A commitment to measurable improvements in the lives of those we serve. We are committed to solving problems, not just serving them. We have set bold goals and we measure our success against the national outcomes of vulnerable populations, not just those who walk through our door.

Every company leader is tasked with the following so that we can authentically describe our relevance, our sustainability and our impact:

1. Determine key performance indicators (KPIs)—what really matters, that advance overarching organizational goals, not just what we are required to report.

According to an article by Bill Dann, CEO of Professional Growth Systems, there are 3 types of measures essential for any organization: outcome measures, strategic measures and core process measures. Outcome measures show you where you have been, i.e., the results of your work. Strategic measures show you if you are making headway to your goals and vision. And core process measures show you if your systems are healthy enough to maintain your desired growth. It is an expectation that Corporate Services and every company of The Fedcap Group engage in the process of defining and measuring outcome, strategic and core process measures.

How many of us have spent time collecting and reporting on data that we know does not tell us anything about impact? While we all care about the numbers of individuals we serve, if what we do is not making a significant difference in their lives, does this data point really matter? While we care about the number of people who “complete” a program, does this matter if there is no real movement in an individual’s quality of life or economic well-being? These are difficult and important discussions that must occur before we spend a lot of time developing mechanisms to capture the information.

2. Establish methods to capture and report data on the KPIs.

This requires that organizations invest in accessible, reliable information systems that capture and provide timely reports on the desired information. It requires staff training and a culture that is hungry for knowledge.

3. Review the data with staff and course correcting as required.

Pragmatically, a measure is no good unless it results in action. And it requires a culture that promotes asking questions, asking more questions, not simply settling for a simplistic analysis of information. It requires action—that when the data tells us something, when we understand what it is telling us, we do something.

How the study of Metrics That MATTER can change an organization cannot be overstated. I will be focusing more on this during the next several weeks, exploring how to build a smart, inquisitive culture capable of getting this important part of our work right.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.