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Submitted by US101 on


Does anybody know who originally said, "What Gets Measured Gets Done?"

Was it Tom Peters in his book In Search of Excellence?

It seems like Drucker should get the credit.


Mark's picture
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We mentioned this in a cast...but it may be one we haven't released.

It's Michael LeBouef, who wrote, GMP: The Greatest Management Principle in the World. (It's not a great book, but it's a BRILLIANT insight.)

The things that get measured are the things that get done.

And he goes on to say, I think in a different book, the things that get measured and REWARDED are the things that get done WELL.


stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]And he goes on to say, I think in a different book, the things that get measured and REWARDED are the things that get done WELL.[/quote]

Sounds like a carrot and stick thing. If you know you're being watched and will be punished for failing to acheive a certain standard then you'll do what's necessary to avoid getting the stick, if you know you're being watched and will be rewarded for exceeding a certain standard then you'll do what ever you can to maximise the amount of carrot you get.

Stick, threat of punishment, puts an upper limit on performance (whatever level is necessary to avoid getting punished plus whatever margin goodwill and a desire to do a good job generate) and may even provide a disincentive to improve when things are bad (hanged for a sheep as for a lamb) whilst carrot, opportunity for reward, puts a lower limit on performance (the standard required to get the first carrot) and no upper limit (assuming there is no set limit on reward).


Mark's picture
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Wow, talk about finding a negative if you look hard enough. There's not a word in there about punishment.

The absence of rewards is NOT punishment. This is not carrot and stick.


tviemont's picture

I thought Drucker said, "What gets measured gets managed." or something along those lines. Was it You can't manage what you don't measure?"

rwwh's picture
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Another nice related quote that I can not attribute is "You become what you measure".

Although similar in nature to "what gets measured gets done", this version has more of the warning in there that if you use a proxy to measure your performance, the proxy should really be a secondary effect of your approaching your goal, or a prerequisite.

jtardy's picture

[quote="rwwh"]Another nice related quote that I can not attribute is "You become what you measure".

I've heard it as "What you measure is what you get". I believe the concept is the same.

terrih's picture

I've taken this principle to heart...

My department produces manuals that are always being revised. The FAA requires that we prove somehow that employees are being held accountable for reading the revisions.

We have online distribution in PDF format, and a website where they can log in and acknowledge receipt of a revision. If they don't do that after a certain period of time, they get an email reminder; after another interval, the system puts them on an automatically-generated Delinquency List, which we've been giving to department heads so they can contact people. But my boss is saying I need to do more to get the word out if people are slacking off on this.

I thought maybe if managers saw that how their departments are doing was being tracked, they might be motivated to get after people more. 8)

I did a simple Excel graph plotting # of delinquent users over the past month... the trend over time. Handed it to one guy and he looked at it and said, "At least it's getting better!" Another manager had only one, and told me, "Oh, we can delete so-and-so from the system."

(There were a couple graphs that were all zeros and I know the managers have a sense of humor, so I put smiley-face stickers on them... "Good Job!!")

I also gave copies to the VPs over the various departments (one of whom is my boss). :wink:

I figured VPs wouldn't want to see the nitty-gritty details of who's delinquent on which manuals, but they might want to know which departments are keeping up with it and which departments need some, ah, encouragement.

I hope it works. I'll do another at the end of February. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.

jhack's picture

Terri, that is a great and inspirational story!


madamos's picture
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I had a similar experiance to share that has really shaped how I manage my direct reports as well as other teams that I have to influence to do my job.

BLUF: Shaing your measurements can change peoples behavior

Background Story:

In my previous job I ran a very large daily meeting. I liked to call this meeting the most expensive meeting at the company since there were around 50 people consisting of mostly senior technology folks. The purpose of the meeting was to review what tech issues happened in the past day and what was planned for the next day. The meeting would sometimes take up to 1 hour to review issues and have discussions.

One of the worst parts of the meeting was participation from each engineering group. We needed their participation to get answers on what occured in their systems the previous day. Several groups would not join the meeting, and those that did would come in so late that the meeting start would be delayed sometimes by as much as 10 minutes. It was a terrible feeling sitting in that room alone for that long waiting for people to show up.

Talking to the managers and the CIO only got agreement that there was an issue, but not a change of behavior. So I took it a bit further. With the CIO's blessing I started taking roll call at the meeting. I know this is not recommended by MT for running meetings, however it was effective in this particular case. Not only did I take roll call, but the roll call started right on time for the meeting. If you weren't in the room when I called your department you were not counted for that day.

In addition to taking the roll call, I published a weekly management report that went to all the engineering managers, VP's and CIO. The effect was almost immediate. Within 2 weeks of taking roll call we had people showing up in the meeting room slightly before the meeting start to make sure they were counted. I had folks ask me to change the order of the roll call so they wouldn't be late (sorry...just be there on time). I had people coming to me after the meeting saying they were there but just missed their name (sorry...I can't go back and change your roll call).

Within two months, by using the roll call and all the suggestions that MT recommends for running meetings(especially the parking lot), we were able to take a meeting that used to last on average 40 minutes down to 20 minutes. It was such a success that the meeting was held up as an example of how to run a successful meeting in the company.

What gets measured is what get done, especially if you share that measurement with everyone involved in reaching the goal.


WillDuke's picture
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I love that! Reward the behavior you want. They were rewarded with inclusion on the roll call.

"Come on dude, you know I was there."
"Yeah dude, and you know you were late!" (And if I give you the reward for showing up late, guess what you'll do next time.)

So no everyone shows up on time, and everyone's happy about it. They probably didn't want to show up on time because they figured everyone else would be late and their time was too valuable to sit around!

I read somewhere that being late is basically valuing your time more than everyone else's. I think this is an excellent example of that.

Nice work!

ramiska's picture

This quote really woke me up.

I am not (yet) a manager but I have taken several steps of late to measure what we do here. Historically, very little of our operation has been measured in any meaningful way. We report on issues but that's been the end of it. My pet project of late has been building a reporting tool that allows search and measurement.

Management is thrilled and has requested that I expand upon it. Now they will have numbers to try to improve upon each year.

terrih's picture

[quote="terrih"]I figured VPs wouldn't want to see the nitty-gritty details of who's delinquent on which manuals, but they might want to know which departments are keeping up with it and which departments need some, ah, encouragement.[/quote]

Silly me... my boss saw the graphs and said where's the detail? :roll:

He had forgotten that the previous manager before me had initiated the weekly reports to managers and he wants to be copied in on those reports so he could see exactly who's a slacker.

Whaddaya know. But it's easy enough to copy him in.