Monday, October 10, 2011

Measurement and the Right Behavior

Appearing before the National Press Club, Ken Burns stated that one loophole in Prohibition allowing religious consumption of spirits created the highest number of rabbis named "O'Shaughnessy and Kelly" and you might add a few Giordanos to the mix. Unintended consequences happen depending on what you set up as the boundaries.

Same things happen in business. Continue measuring individual performance and collaboration decreases. Set up a standard that the bottom 10% of the organization get tossed and you'll find people performing not at their peak, but just well enough to outrun their neighbor. That is, the 10% bear will eat them, while they jog along at the 11-15% pace. And they'll help insure that there's at least 1 in 10 of the new hires will be eaten by the 10% bear so they remain safe.

Likewise, if everyone is looking out for the sake of their own skin, they're not caring about customers or the success of the organization. They're in a race but looking over their shoulder just to make sure nobody's catching up.

Efficiency and productivity measures encourage optimization at my part of the operation but don't encourage me to send work product to the next person at the time they need it, in the manner they need or with the right mix to do the customer any good. Likewise, I'll be hopping mad if the people screw up my efficiency by sending me a mix of stuff. Heaven help us if it's the customer that gets in the way of my efficiency. But I don't care. I have really low costs and high output. By Jove, don't schedule any meetings so I can help out my team and collaborate further to create really innovative "things" and improvements.

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