Pink Dog

The value of pointless KPIs

Blank Microsoft Word screen

I have a new graph I look at each day.

Everything is wrong about it.

Yet I still look at it every day.

It shows how many words I’ve written for my book each day, along with a straight line projection of when the total will hit 60,000.

The data is debatable. (Should the word count include footnotes or not?)

The project is absurdly crude. (Not even adjusting for weekends.)

The target is meaningless. 60,000 is the minimum mentioned in a contract, true. But it’s only a minimum, and quality matters as much, if not more. A brilliant 55,000 or an awful 60,000? Not much of a guess as to which even the publisher’s contract lawyer would prefer.

So this is all another distraction from getting on and writing the damn thing?

Not at all. Because although everything about the graph is wrong, it is serving one purpose spot on. I am writing more words, more regularly.

What the graph measures is deeply flawed. But the behaviour it is changing is just what is needed.

It’s a point often overlooked when talking about KPIs, targets, data series and the like. If their purpose is to help change what happens, then the real test is not the purity of the data. It’s the behaviour change it drives.



Listen to the Liberal Democrats and British politics being discussed by myself and a wide range of experts from inside and outside the party on my podcast, Never Mind The Bar Charts.

3 responses to “The value of pointless KPIs”

    • The value of pointless KPIs
      Is really not clear to my eyes
      but Mark says ‘just do it’
      so I’ll swallow the bullet
      this poem must rhyme, I theorise

  1. Well put Mark. Totally agree. What gets measured gets done. Regulators are often focussed on simplifying reporting frameworks, but they forget the power of monitoring indicators to drive positive culture and behaviour change.

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