Many organizations are struggling to implement useful metrics. The common lament is that measurement is complicated and time-consuming, people cheat when it comes to reporting performance results, and often, the most valuable metrics require special projects to be undertaken to enable data collection. Moreover, when one considers the effort involved in collecting data, analyzing performance, creating reports for management and finally holding review meetings to discuss the results, the cost of maintaining a measure can easily outweigh the benefit of whatever insights it yields. Fortunately, this problem can be largely avoided by linking measurement to strategy. This subtle shift in focus can make the valuable difference between knowing whether you are doing things right versus doing the right things.
For example, when a large manufacturing company realized that it needed to improve its success rate rolling out new products to the marketplace, it became apparent that a significant behavioral change would be required by the sales, marketing and engineering divisions - each of which would have to work with the other two to make sure that customers would be willing to pay for the new features being added. In essence, a new strategic objective, incorporate the voice of the customer into new product development (NPD), was necessary before any performance measure could be selected. Ultimately, the metric chosen by the NPD process. This metric forced the organization not only to be more disciplined about its NPD process, but also to force cooperation among key stakeholders in that process. Before long, the company noticed that its new products were being accepted by customers with fewer complaints, warranty claims decreased and market share increased as the company became proficient at matching product releases to customer preferences.
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