Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Transform Your Metrics From "So What?" Into "Who Knew?"

There are a lot of 3D movies out; have you noticed? I don’t seek them out but I appreciate the fact that people may enjoy a film more when it is multi- dimensional and they can feel immersed in the action.

I think we get too fond of our metrics; we have them because we’ve always had them. We track metrics and manage them and present their variances against performance goals. The problem? They often are one-dimensional and not very meaningful outside of our own function. And, if they aren’t tied to a real business outcome, it’s hard to make a case for the programs we want to implement. We may not monetize metrics, which is the language of our bosses; so there’s a sense of “so what?” when we present.

So, how do you make a common metric like turnover (employee or customer) more 3 dimensional and get people immersed in your action?

Embed Metrics With Data: Not just the obvious data of people in/people out. Drill down; explore data. There’s an “aha” in there I promise and since you have the business context, there is no one better positioned to see it and explain it.

Use Data Sets from Other Departments: Make your metric multi-dimensional by bringing in data from HR, Sales, Marketing, Operations, Process, Call Center: whatever data set you have, add to it in a smart way by collaborating with other departments who also have valuable data that isn’t yet insight. We have to dismantle data fiefdoms and share. Where does turnover impact the business? How does it impact the business?

Try Simple Statistical Tests: This is the point at which people click off because they think it’s not in their skill set. If you have Excel on your PC, you have a statistical toolkit. Invest in a great little e-book that provides a huge amount of good information and it is well presented (Using Excel to Solve Business Problems by Curtis Seare). Try out various assumptions to see which are more powerful. Who is leaving? What is driving turnover? How does it affect customers? How does it impact employees? Where does it affect business goals? Experiment with results and keep testing.

Provide a Business Context: Sometimes people get hung up with statistics, even simple ones and forget that the most important point is taking what statistics can tell you and mapping that to what you know about the business.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know: aka Monetize the Results. When you know what turnover really costs the company and what it costs to improve the situation, you will have the attention of people who haven’t seen your metrics/data/ideas presented in a way that they understand.

Then, your metrics are multi-dimensional and provide real intelligence for the organization.

How are you helping your decision-makers get immersed in your metrics? Are they in 3D?


  1. Barbara:
    Excellent post. Making numbers jump off the page and grab your attention is a skill sorely needed. Thanks for the tips.

  2. Thanks, Mike. I can't think of a more important strategic topic right now than analytics; it's one of the last frontiers of differentiation for most of us. Getting on board with analytics, now that's the challenge!