If It's Measured, It Matters

By Jim Chaparro

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Leadership transition almost always comes with change: changes in priorities, changes in policies, changes in resource allocation, and changes in business processes, just to name a few. new leader will use mantras such as, “we are going to do it better”, “we are doing to do it faster”, or “we will take a more comprehensive approach”. Mantras such as these are really just bumper stickers that help to sell the ideas to internal and external stakeholders, be it their workforce, partner organizations, the public and even Congress. 

 

But even the best bumper stickers fade and peel off over time, and their catchy slogans get lost to the ages, or worse, become associated with changes that didn’t stand the test of time. 

 

If it is measured, it matters.

 

If a new leader wants to drive change that is sustained, they need to develop outcome-based performance metrics that can objectively assess the impact of the new idea or program. Leaders must be careful to not only measure “what” they do; they need to measure the “outcome” of what they do – based on real evidence and real data. And they must use this data as they make decisions about the direction of the program. 

 

A well thought out plan for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of a program helps give the leader, and the program, enduring credibility. That enduring credibility buys the leader the ability to build a coalition of the willing to drive the program forward, and even the ability convince skeptics to adopt the change. It also provides a mechanism to put individual events into context – decreasing the likelihood of overreacting or underreacting to such information. It is these measures of effectiveness that will help to gain the support of critical external stakeholders (Congress, the Public, etc.), as well as employees and other internal stakeholders.   

 

Outcome measures are even more important when activity crosses organizational lineswhere several Agencies must work together to achieve common objectivesWhere leaders create these unifying metrics, and report on them, they drive internal and external stakeholders to focus on what matters. Where no unified metrics exist, disconnects and stovepipes can occur, resulting in damaging negative outcomes. 

 

Change is never easy, and it is even harder to make change “stick”. Focusing less on bumper stickers and more on meaningful, impactful and measurable outcomes is a recipe for success that all leaders should devour with gusto.

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