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Why Metrics Drive Mediocrity
Guest articles > Why Metrics Drive Mediocrity
by: Lisa Earle McLeod
We’ve all heard it, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
Metrics-driven leadership is now the default. Leaders set numerical goals in an attempt to solve every problem from struggling schools to flagging sales.
But the problem with metrics-driven leadership is that it doesn’t work. The
above quote is often attributed to Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the visionary business
scholar who transformed the auto industry.
When you try to manage by the numbers, be they test scores, sales activity, or productivity measures, you drive towards mediocrity. Quantitative (numerical) measurements alone will never make an organization great, because it is the qualitative (non numerical) elements of performance that achieve greatness.
For example, do you ever watch the Olympics? Do you know how they score ice skating?
Part of the score is for technical merit, and part of the score is for artistic impression. If the scoring were simply based on technical merit, it would be a very boring event. It’s the combination of technical merit and artistic impression that make it interesting. The top performers excel in both.
Yet in business, and education, and sadly often in families, we score performance solely on technical merit. Did you cover every element of the content? Did you check all the boxes on the five-step sales process? Did you pay all the bills on time?
We default to the easy to understand quantitative elements, while completely ignoring the more nuanced qualitative elements. Yet it’s qualitative elements like emotional engagement, passion, and purpose that are critical drivers of success and satisfaction. There are three reasons why organizations exclusively focus on numerical measures:
Lisa Earle McLeod is a sales leadership consultant. Companies like Apple, Kimberly-Clark and Pfizer hire her to help them create passionate, purpose-driven sales forces. She the author of several books including Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud, a Wiley publication, released Nov. 15, 2012. She has appeared on The Today Show, and has been featured in Forbes, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal. She provides executive coaching sessions, strategy workshops, and keynote speeches.
More info: www.mcleodandmore.com
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Contributor: Lisa Earle McLeod
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