Leadership Essentials – The Purposes of Metrics

Leadership Essentials – The Purposes of Metrics

Why do you count what you count?  Most leaders don’t have a good answer.  The most common answer is, “This is what we have always measured.”  History is not a good reason for your metrics.  In fact, metrics are about the future, not the past.  Metrics are about fulfilling our purposes and Kingdom purposes.  If we count the wrong things, and/or fail to count critical items, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

There are multiple reasons and purposes for metrics.   Bottom line: Is what we are measuring helping us to fulfill our individual or organizational purpose/call/objective?  Statisticians tend to want to measure anything that is measurable.  Collecting extraneous data that does not get us down the road to where we want to be can actually hinder our progress, miscommunicate what is important, cause problems for management, and potentially lead to failure when our people fixate on filling in all the blanks of our report forms and questionnaires, which have become more important than the task at hand.

Our definition of success and how we measure it are critical to being successful.  It is important that we measure the right things that mobilize and motivate toward fulfilling our purpose/call/objective.  So, look at your reporting instruments and ask yourself, “Does this line measure or motivate us to reach our goals, objectives, and purpose?”  When we collect only the data that gets us to our goals, then we are more likely to reach our goals.  But we also need to make sure we keep the bigger picture in mind, or we may not fulfill our purpose or Kingdom purpose.

So, why do we need metrics?

Metrics enhance accountability.  If we don’t measure it most people will not think it is important, and when there is a time crunch, or if they are simply not motivated, they will not do it.

Metrics help us to stay focused.  What is our real task?  If you measure everything your people will not know what to focus on.  Measure only what you want your people to do.  It might be nice to know other data points, but each extraneous data point fuzzes the focus of our people.

We usually achieve what we measure.  If you measure it, people will do it, as long as you are measuring what is essential to success.  The only time to capture lots of different data is when there is a problem, and the purpose of the data collection is then to find where the problem lays.

We communicate what is important by what we measure.  Not only is what we measure communicated as important, the order in which we organize the report communicates the importance of each data point we are tracking.  Start with the most important item that gets you to success, then break it out from there. 

Metrics allow leadership to evaluate progress and make course corrections.  You must evaluate your data as soon as possible and as frequently as possible in order to catch trends.  Trends let you know if you are moving towards success or on a trajectory that will miss success.  If you collect data, but never evaluate it, then you are wasting everyone’s time, effort, and money.  You may or may not succeed.  But in either case you will be surprised.

Metrics assist in decision-making related to strategy and resourcing.  Our data gathering should inform us regarding what resources we may need and where to spend critical or limited resources.  Resources include people, management efforts, material and goods, time and money.

Metrics enhance prayer mobilization.  When we measure only the things that get us to success, we know how to communicate to our constituency.  We know what is important and we know what our prayer needs are.

Do you have other reasons for your metrics?  Let me know.


David Watson
Irving, Texas

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