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Feb 6, 2013

Think, decide, act

"Users must not make the mistake of thinking that this number-heavy approach is somehow going to make decisions for them – the method is just a heuristic tool to help people think about the issues, decide on solutions and act on their decisions."
Well said Dave!  That statement came at the end of a piece advising businesses to develop matrices showing the knowledge and skills of employees in order to identify single points of failure and gaps, for business continuity purposes.  

I'm not entirely convinced that Dave's suggested approach is materially better than management and/or HR simply scratching their heads and working out who the organization would miss the most if they fell under a proverbial bus.   On the other hand, 'completing a self-assessment questionnaire/skills matrix by the end of next month' might be a convenient lever to ensure that some analysis is in fact done rather than being continually back-burnered.  

There are two more general metrics points here:  

  1. Metrics are simply a type of information.  They achieve nothing unless the people who receive the information act appropriately on it, preferably doing things better than they would have done without the metrics.
  2. Measuring something inevitably focuses attention on it, and sometimes that alone may be sufficient for those doing the measuring to spot and deal with issues directly, and/or lead directly to changes in whatever is being measured as a result of being observed.  Therefore in some situations, the measurement process - the very act of measuring - may be valuable in its own right.  Measuring sometimes trumps metrics!