I have written previously about not subscribing to the school of ‘if-you-can’t-measure-it,-it-doesn’t-exist’, but after a difficult last week, I feel it needs revisiting…
I would like to be clear: in any business, strategies and new initiatives need frameworks and clear governance (budgets and timelines, for a start), but I do not think that they should be based on predetermined hurdle-rates and early outputs. All too often these are the very distractions that obscure the long-term perspective, and may even undermine the ability to achieve the ultimate outcome – to actually run the race.
For example, networking is now accepted as a vital part of business culture and currency, but its value or contribution isn’t particular measurable. New media introduction – from radio through to television – was never originally very measurable, and largely still remains so.
The problem is that measurement numbers are often more of an equation than a true indicator, and even with a more transparent medium like social media, calculating the impressions of a twitter campaign by the numbers of tweets multiplied by the aggregate followers is pretty facile and largely irrelevant. In a similar vein, direct sales results only reflect your active customer base – but not necessarily your total brand audience – and so do little to show where a particular campaign is ‘going’, but rather more only where it has ‘been’.
If you believe that most breakthrough strategy is fundamentally about being ‘first to game’, do you really expect there to be both a roadmap and clear signposts? In fact, we could argue that if such measurements are clearly and obviously there, then the potential first mover advantage is already – de facto – lost.
The most successful new campaigns and initiatives are not determined by measurement, but rather by an agreed and consistent commitment of resource and planning. The required outcome will follow if the strategy is well-conceived, well-directed and well-delivered.
That is the point of strategy: to commit to a particular result, and to communicate consistently and frequently how that result is going to be achieved – not how that result is going to be measured, or indeed how it is performing at any given moment.
After all, you do not plant a garden only to dig it up every month to see how it is going…
So, three winehero tips on project and performance measurement:
1. Measurement is important, but it should capture both ‘hard’ (eg sales results) and ‘soft’(audience/brand engagement) touchpoints
2. Measurement should be part of a management framework, but projects must be allowed to incubate and breathe – measurement is not the ‘end’, it is just part of the ‘means’
3. The more ‘blue-ocean’ the strategy, the longer it may take for measurement to appear. Often a new activity can be about creating the opportunity and/or awareness, rather than yet delivering it.