A3. Capability & B2. Variation…and Measurement

capability-and-variation-index-pictureWe need measures of how capable our system is against its purpose. Such measures should be method agnostic (i.e. the method is but a black box). We can then understand whether we are improving (or not).

There is a great deal wrong with conventional measurement tools and techniques (arbitrary activity targets, KPIs, binary comparisons, league tables, incorrect use of averages…and on and on).

Capability measures, in the hands of everyone (but most definitely the process performers), show what is really going on and enable understanding, experimentation and true improvement.


Post Title: Summary ‘teaser’: Month Published:
Management by results… how does that work?! Nick Farr-Jones Rugby score example: Focusing on results does not change the causes of the results. If we ‘do the right things’ then the numbers will look after themselves.  Nov 2014
The trouble with targets Patient wait-time example: Numeric activity targets cause people to focus on achieving the target, to the detriment of ‘doing the right thing’. Dec 2014
The Spice of Life Walking the dog example: There is variation in everything, which we would do well to understand. We need to separate out signals from the noise. May 2015
Falling into that trap! Cycling to work example: A numeric target causes dysfunctional behaviour and cannot help the system to improve. Jun 2015
Tampering An explanation of the funnel experiment: using binary comparisons (e.g. comparing this week to last week) and making adjustments will likely make things worse. Jul 2015
Capability what? Seddon’s 3 tests to determine a good measure: So I always talk about capability measures…but what does that actually mean, what does one look like and how can you be sure whether you’re using one? Sep 2015
What have the Romans ever done for us!! Monty Python script: We can report on just about anything…but we should ask ourselves what the value (and relevance) of this reporting is. We should guard against making decisions using flawed measurement information. Oct 2015
“Sir, Sir, Sir…have you marked it yet?!” The aching desire for feedback: Cast your mind back to school and exams. You really wanted to know how you had done…but your interest quickly died away. And so it is at work. People need speedy, constant and meaningful feedback if they are to understand and improve. Jun 2016
Slaughtering the ‘Sacred Cow’ Do you love the Balanced Scorecard? How about those Strategy Maps?

…but are they the brilliant ‘strategic management system’ that ‘we’ think they are?

Jan 2017
Inspector Clouseau The inspectors are coming…quick, let’s get ready!

…or is there a better way to think about this?

Mar 2017
’80 in 20’…erm, can we change that?! What’s dafter than a target? A target on a target! This post explains why Mar 2017
Not Particularly Surprising A critique of Net Promoter Score (NPS) – part 1 Feb 2018
How good is that one number? A critique of Net Promoter Score (NPS) – part 2 Feb 2018
Counts, categories and computations Daft data analysis: Before ‘playing with numbers’, we should first think about what we are dealing with Jun 2018
Targets on measures of targets on measures of things Unpicking the world of (overly) ‘simple’ management reporting Aug 2020