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Performance Management, Viewpoint!

Weighing the pig won’t make it fatter

There’s a quote used in relation to performance measurement that says “weighing a pig doesn’t make it fatter”. The supposed criticism is directed at those who think measurement is the be all and end all for performance improvement. Of course, weighing the pig doesn’t make it fatter, but acting on the data (i.e. altering the pig’s diet) could well make it fatter. It’s certainly more likely that the farmer weighing the pig will be able to take action to fatten his/her pig, whereas the farmer who doesn’t weigh at all is unlikely to be able to take any appropriate action.

I am reminded of the three golden rules of measurement:

1. No measurement without recording

2. No recording without analysis

3. No analysis without action

In other words, don’t dream up a list of things to measure if you don’t have the means to record the data. Then, don’t bother recording data unless you intend to analyse them to get some insight. Finally, analysis should lead to action.

Let’s get better at weighing the pig!

I’ve been speaking to someone recently about an organisation that is implementing one of the current favourite approaches to process improvement (you choose: Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma!). Apparently, their latest focus is on improving their measurement and reporting system, not on improving the performance of their business processes. Their emphasis is on tracking the number of reports submitted by their delivery partners that are on time, accurate and complete. These delivery partners get a lot of grief if the reports are poor, but seemingly nobody is very concerned about the quality or timeliness of the actual services they are providing.

It seems to me that this is a case of “let’s get better at weighing the pig”.

To take a parallel example, we’d think it odd if a Formula 1 race team decided to buy more accurate stop-watches with the expectation that the car would then go faster. Go figure!


You might also like to read my articles (pdf):

Lead and Lag Indicators

Managing by Numbers

Why Benchmarking might not work




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