Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Effective metrics drive the results you want

This week I attended the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit in Washington, D.C.  I attended a lot of very good sessions, but the one that left the biggest mark on me was a session called "Metrics That Matter," delivered by Jeffrey Wheatman.529 3218902

I went to this session because I've had a lot of conversations with information security executives this year, and a common question is "What should I really be measuring?," or they make comments like "I report on a lot of things, but I am not sure what the top indicators are that I should roll up to my executive team."

My initial reason for attending this session was for my "day job" as the CTO of a tech company, but I feel like I can "generify" Wheatman's guidelines to apply to anything that needs to be measured & tracked.

  1. Effective metrics must support the business's goals, and the connection to those goals should be clear.
  2. Effective metrics must be controllable. (In other words, don't report on things that "just happen" - report on things you can drive up or down with your own, direct actions).
  3. Effective metrics must be quantitative, not qualitative.  If you need to measure something "softer" like customer satisfaction, find a way to make it quantitative, such as with a method like Net Promoter Score.
  4. Effective metrics must be easy to collect and analyze. (Wheatman says "If it takes 3 weeks to gather data that you report on monthly, you should find an easier metric to track.")
  5. Effective metrics are subject to trending.  (Tracking progress and setting targets is vital to get people to pay attention)

This set of guidelines really resonated with me, and I am going to run my metrics through this regimen to make my own metrics better.  If you're a Gartner client, there is a detailed research report from Wheatman on this topic, and I suggest you grab a copy.

I've also learned that it helps to simplify how you report on metrics.  When dealing with executives, stick with small numbers and primary colors - and when you get senior enough, try to boil it down to up/down, happy/sad.

What about you - do you have any best practices to share around metrics?  Could you apply these to your own individual metrics or self-improvement goals?