Performance measures and learning LO12158

JC Howell (
Fri, 24 Jan 1997 02:18:11 +0000

Replying to LO12118 --


I sense that, perhaps, you took my comments as a personal comment. Please
don't. They are simply comments on measurement and measurement systems.
They are not comments on the person of Ethan Mings.

> I'm really surprised. For two reasons. First, my orginal comments came
> out of some interesting comments on measurement. Second, while I respect
> experience, I also understand the importance of looking at issues from a
> variety of angles. I really get the feeling in your notes your past
> experience with indicators has been anything but helpful. In my past
> experience, indicators have been very helpful and the process healthy.

On the contrary. I have had some very helpful and enjoyable experiences
with measurement. I have seen the bad as well as the good, though. I
have had to fight uphill battles to get those systems accepted, at times.
I have seen tremendous progress and tremendous abuse.

In all cases, though, the comments I made were generally applicable.
Measurement wasn't developed and used according to any coherent plan. It
simply WAS. My efforts to move the organization toward a more coherent
and informed approach were sometimes successful, sometimes not. Still, a
positive could be found and the measurment system used to help move

I don't know what interesting comments you refer to in the quoted
paragraph but I would like to see them if you feel inclined to share.

I want to emphasize, again, the point about poor management. Even the
best measurement system, in the hands of poor managers, can lead to
undesirable results. The problem with poor managers is that they don't
understand what "it" is all about. Therefore, they tend to focus on the
wrong things because they just don't get it. What they get may be
dynamite indicators ... of all the wrong things.

> How organizations use measurement as part of the learning process is very
> important. The key is to make the process and outcomes meaningful,
> constructive and useful for everyone. At the end of the day, everyone,
> including management can really benefit from the experience.

I agree in principle. Practically speaking, though, this is a little
pie-in-the-sky and just doesn't typically seem to happen. It's certainly
worth pursuing, but the practical failures and successes we experience are
invaluable sources of learning in this area, too.


Clyde Howell

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