Measures: Try Guiding, not Grading

Look carefully what separates ‘success that lasts’ from ‘yet another shiny-object-turned-failed-initiative’, and you will often find the same root cause. Measures, and how they are used. Specifically if they are used to ‘grade’ people or if they are use to guide people to do better.

This was the same obstacle we noted in the last post — the one thing standing in the way as we moved from focusing on Knowledge to Knowledge-in-Action.

If you are what you measure, customer support/service (and if we aren’t careful, customer success) is in a terrible place because most of what we measure is based on outdated phone-based call center metrics from the last century.

The problem is that our world of customers and employees is complex, and we have no way of knowing what specific thing we did caused a specific outcome. We don’t have a way to measure what is important, so what we can measure becomes important.

Even worse, we often put ‘goals’ on activities — the predictable result of which is a set of bad behaviors with poor outcomes for our customers and our employees. We end up ‘grading’ people, and no one likes being managed that way.

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