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Tuesday
Oct122010

Measuring the wrong metrics. Where innovation often fails.

A truncated quote is often attributed to Peter Drucker, “You can’t manage what you cannot measure.” The continuation of that thought continues, “You can’t measure everything that matters.” The first half has become embedded into our DNA. The second half is simply false. You can measure what matters, but not by the same metrics as everything else.

Our culture has created problem solvers. Identify the problem and solve it quickly. The result may create more downstream problems. Solve them later. This is our business nature. But, it’s not our human nature, which has brought us this far by looking beyond immediate problems/solution cycles to view the entire system and how we should fit within it.

Balance is very measurable if you make it your focus. Balance is what will assure a livable future for the next generations. It is also what has been missing from innovation for far too long. I believe we focus on solutions in a vacuum, without a genuine understanding of the system, our impact on it, our responsibility to it, or the long term benefits of preserving it. What we measure today, for the most part, are metrics like GNP, quarterly profit, quarterly dividends. What are the measures for longevity, sustainability, long term health of society and planet? We talk about “green” everything, but that’s not enough.

Dwayne King
recently posted an interesting perspective” Designing for Happiness.” It’s not a new concept. In Bhutan, it’s an official measure of the country’s health. King’s thoughts are worth a read. He cites Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota, who realized his city could not compete by the standard metrics, so why not measure what really mattered? The results were amazing. The perspective is sobering. The metrics are both tangible, quantifiable and contribute to the wellbeing of all, not just the profits of a few.

 


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