Monday, January 9, 2012

Metrics, Analytics, And Common Sense

A tenet of Leadership is if you don't measure you won't change.

There's plenty of software and tools available to measure just about anything and provide statistics as well.

Some items can be counted – like responses to a survey questions. Other items can be measured by the responses – click-through sales. Sometimes an indirect approach is required – effect of a sales campaign by measuring gross sales before, during , and after the campaign.

There are some situations which are not quantifiable and effectiveness must be inferred – like the effect of print advertisements on sales.

A key to useful metrics and analytics is identifying what you want to learn and how best to measure it - by direct or relative measurement.

Trends are direct measurement candidates – here's my baseline of x-units over y-timeframe ...the measure is the change in volume of units for each time block.

Effectiveness can be measured on a relative basis – here's the volume and outcome of the target compared to the volume and outcome of other comparator producers or the norms of the group – like traffic on a website related to on-line orders.

Since the computer can be tasked with the slicing and dicing unlimited amounts of data, we can get hundreds of statistics from even simple measurements. When we had to pay for to compile data, the amount of statistics, ratios and comparative information requested was more focused than than a click of a key availability of today – a practical limitation of time and cost.

We can be overrun by statistics and the analytics to interpret them. The time investment now is in the use of the output. And we can be mislead by results from indirect and relative measurements if the comparator group is not appropriate to the target.

For example, traffic on a website can be mistakenly shown as aggressively above the norm or horribly behind it, if a static information site and a promoted sales-based site are compared. Apples and oranges.

Keep metrics and analytics simple to get meaningful results which can translate into changes that affect revenue.

I have run an organization using about eight key indicators available on a real-time basis. The system had capabilities of generating over 200 elements of real data and ratios – the other 192 were of no value to me – so I did not request them.

Best story about meaningful analytics was a comment from Dick Davies after we had attended a meet & greet event – he said he had spoken with 35 individuals. I asked how he knew – he said 'I counted' (resource sheets at the beginning of the event minus sheets at the end). Simple. Effective. Practical.

What are the best (and most effective) metrics and analytics you have seen?

Friday, January 6, 2012

What's a Plan?

Something I heard that rang the bell:

       A plan is a report of what has just happened.

Your thoughts?

These may be of interest:

Capital Technology Management Hub
Tuesday, January 10, 6:30 – 6:35 pm
Arlington GMU Campus
Founders Hall, Room 126
3351 Fairfax Drive Arlington, VA 22226


Association Of Information Technology Professionals (AITP)
Thursday, January 12, 6 – 9 pm
Alfio's La Trattoria,
4515 Willard Ave, Chevy Chase MD 20815

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nuvo Quo

Change. It's unsettling and exciting. It's evolutionary and inevitable. It's widely initiated and frequently resisted.

Alvin Toffler, in his 1970 book Future Shock, says we can only take so much change before we hit overload and shut down mentally to additional change – like a sponge reaching its saturation point.

The pace of change has increased dramatically since Toffler defined Future Shock, and our capacity to adopt change has evolved also – but limits still affect us.

At a recent meeting, the facilitator did an observation exercise in which one person altered their appearance and the other tried to identify the changes. A few minutes after the exercise, the facilitator noted that most individuals reversed the changes – returning to the comfort of the pre-change conditions. The illustrated principle – after change, people strive to return to status quo (the old normal state) – they try to re-establish what was before.

Simple examples of this tendency – New Year's resolutions, diets, personal development training... a strong pull to return to the old way.

So what happens in an organization when the changes have eliminated the status quo for the individual? They will make up a new story – new rules – a new norm – to replace the no longer available status quo. They create nuvo quo - a new normal state – to guide them in their roles. Nuvo quo helps the person regain the feeling of control of their environment. There is no coordination with mission or vision of the organization as the individual develops a New Normal state – to mitigate the uncomfortable feeling of change overload. Communication of nuvo quo to the leaders of the organization is virtually unknown.

Conflicts develop between what the individual is doing and what the organization expects the individual to do - “Just doing my job (as I define it)” versus “not doing your job (as documented in the position specs)”. An employee of a transportation agency boasted in an external meeting that he had the ability to completely shut down an entire sector of the transportation industry country-wide with just the flick of a computer key – wonder if that's part of the ops plan for the agency and under what controlled circumstances?

Have any examples of Nuvo Quo after a change in the organization? Please share.

This may be of interest -

Association Of Information Technology Professionals (AITP)
Thursday, January 12, 6 – 9 pm
Alfio's La Trattoria,
4515 Willard Ave, Chevy Chase MD 20815