The measurement assessments are coming back and, not surprisingly, confirming some of the suspicions that we have had for some time.
When an organization trends towards a top-down management style, reporting becomes part of the machinery. Often (I am willing give the benefit of the doubt a little bit anyway) the initial thoughts behind the performance reporting are valid. Management should be reviewing certain pictures of what is occuring within the organization and the performance of its various programs. As the saying goes, “You get what you inspect not what you expect.”
Over time, these trends become ingrained in the staff that are required to provide the information. And before long, as staff turnover occurs, the original reason for tracking a particular facet of the organization is lost. A systematic review of all reporting, measurement, and tracking activities should be engaged in by the organization. The overriding question however is not “What are we measuring?” but “Why are we measuring that?” This is where many organizations get lost.
Statistics junkies like myself like to manipulate numbers.
- How many donors called last month?
- How many donors called the same month last year?
- How many donation challenges did we have this month?
- How many gifts over $100 did we receive last year?
- How many donors did we lose last year?
- How many donors did we gain from this activity?
The list is of course endless. Here is the loaded question – How much of it is pointless?
If you aren’t doing anything to change behavior as a result of the information you are gleaning from your database or from anecdotal evidence, then you shouldn’t be asking for it in the first place. Quit making yourself or your staff do the work if the information is not going to be put to use in a meaningful way.
What information are you tracking that you aren’t really using? When was the last time you did a systemic review of your various performance measurement instruments?
Our measurement assessment is coming back with some very interesting information. Many of the staff know what they track on a daily basis but don’t really know why. They don’t know how it is used. They also suspect that much of it can be done with a whole lot less paper and provide better information at the same time. Looks like we have some work to do.