Measure - Spend The Time

Published: Thursday, November 9, 2017

When looking up measure in the dictionary, I was struck by one of the core definitions:

reach the required or expected standard; fulfill expectations

Admittedly, most of my work has had ambiguous or ill defined measures.  But as I am maturing as a leader, I have started looking for ways to measure what I am doing, either for myself, management, or the company.  Here are some lessons I am learning:

Anything can be measured

Don’t believe me, then check out the book “How To Measure Anything"!  This is a fantastic read that just gives plain common sense to measurement.  I now use ranges and confidence levels to communicate effectively as a measure.  For example, I was helping a couple of new developers come up to speed in the code base.  I started by asking them how long it would take to solve a problem that they knew nothing about.  After a couple of back and forth conversations, we were able to get a 90% confidence measure that it could be done between 1 and 3 days.  After all estimation is a measure.

What doesn’t get measured, usually doesn’t get done

Everyone can relate to this statement who has to spend dollars and commit people, especially when planning.  You may get away with measures not being set the first time, but the next time you ask for the appropriate resourcing, you probably won’t get it unless you show a measured success.  This is why a lot of projects fail.  The don’t start with thinking about how to measure success at the beginning and track to it.  Instead, fuzzy ideas of success permeate through projects or initiatives.  I have personally changed my work style to get answer to the following measure questions:

  • Defining measures of success
    • This also means defining the quality
  • Understanding how those measures are going to be tracked
  • Figuring out both Leading and Lagging indicators of success
  • What will it cost to measure and is it worth it

I hope you will take time to measure.