Thursday, October 1, 2015

Wrong Metrics, Wrong Behavior

An Research chief uses metrics to change behavior, but he also realizes that metrics could be 'gamed'. For example, he could measure his departments on patents, but without any qualitative aspect, he realizes he would end up with worthless patents; they would be filed to satisfy any metric review but wouldn't bring value to the company. He makes sure he's driving the right behavior.

"Wrong metrics, wrong behaviors," he says.

When I teach Lean/Six Sigma, I describe one of the oft-overlooked waste: wrong use of metrics that drive poor behavior, e.g. efficiency.

When you are getting the right behavior, make sure your metrics reflect that. One of the problems with Lean implementation in manufacturing companies is that you can take a short-term hit on profitability when reducing inventory. It's the right thing to do, but it looks wrong.

Right behaviors should be reflected with the right metrics. Or else you'll fall back on the wrong behaviors and there'll be lots of pressure to make the wrong metrics look good again.

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