Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Why measure it if you are not going to do anything about it?"

I was at a medical convention years ago, listening to a surgeon ask his fellow sugeons in the audiance, Socratically, how they would handle a particular case he was describing.  One suggested a specific lab test. 
"What do you do differently if the test is below normal?" asked the speaker.
"So, what would you do differently if the test is above normal?" he queried.
"So why measure it if you aren't going to do anything about it?" was the indignant retort.
An important moment, which I've thought about a lot over the years. 
We have many metrics.  But do we use them?  Do we plot the trends and take actions?  Do we even state, explicitly, what we expect a metric to be?  A range within which we will be happy? 
Why get on the bathroom scale to weigh yourself if you don't a) have a target weight range and b) a plan to modify your diet/excercise if you go above the range and c) a plan to increase your caloric intake if you are below that range?
If you don't have those three, be honest and just tell yourself stepping on the scales is for entertainment purposes only.
If you are not going to act on your business metrics, be honest and tell yourself they are for enternatinment purposes only.
Keep learning.