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How to invent your own measurement system for success.

Create your own measurement system

31,536,000 is the amount of seconds in a year, yet we called it a year and therefore measure success according to the years. We all have 86400 seconds in a day (without travel over time zones influences), and yet for convenience and daily scale we called it a day and thus measure the outcomes from day to day. How do the measure your life or business when metric goals are recorded? Do you use annual, quarters, month and weeks or days? We see the need in some industries and process’s to set time at much smaller scales i.e. the opening timing of a diesel fuel injector or the time of a financial trade using HFT technology (High Frequency Trading). Therefore we are reminded that by setting the correct and appropriate measurement scale to a goal some additional and new useful insight can be gained.

Measure what is measurable and make measurable what is not so
— Galileo Galilei

When setting large strategic goals I mostly see the same large scale of measurements been used and often cascaded through the organization. You may be making a mistake by asking for metrics at the same frequency of larger scale goals. Do not forget the management team are juggling activities in the day and may become tempted to seek a convenient solution for reporting whilst ignoring a potential opportunity.  As a leader, there remains an opportunity in many companies and your life outside of work, to implement smaller measurement scales of performance which will then provide new benefits. The reasons for such a change is simple, firstly a higher degree of accuracy in measurement systems provides the best leadership and action decisions through the quality of information provided. In smaller scale changes you generate increased volume of data points which provides more robust improved statistical samples to be taken.

Variable selection of data sets

Variable selection of data sets

 

When did you last review your own goals and explore areas to discover new scaled units of measure? If you need to, then INVENT one i.e. units of 100 sales or 100 website visits and called it a JAMSO or anything you wish! For cycling, running, logistics or demographic profiles do you measure miles? Why not convert to km? The change in unit of measure will allow 1.6 more data points to be collected and allow improved analysis of performance over the same distance traveled. Have you now identified which scale is more appropriate to your business model, seconds, hours, 4 hour cycles, day, weekly, bi-monthly? This change will highlight more variation in performance and allow earlier performance behaviors to be identified, planned and acted upon. I have benefited from such changes and where possible always to seek this implementation, so each correct unit “sweet spot” is used.

The different types of measurement scale are denoted as nominal, ratio, ordinal and interval.

What is a nominal scale?

We often use the word already in day to day computer filing terms such as “labels” This is applicable to define a nominal scale. They are used to label variables that are do not have a quantitative value. Examples are gender : Male/FemaleSeasons: Spring/Summer or Location : USA, India, Kenya

What is a ratio scale?

These are the super sexy units that inform us about the order in measurement, they provide us the exact value also between the units and have a defined known zero point. Examples are mass and energy

What is an ordinal scale?

We see these on a daily basis through questionnaires. This orders the importance and significance or a value that may be unknown to determine the difference between each other and/or can change depending on emotions at the time of measurement. Examples of this are :

How satisfied are you so far with this blog article on measurement?

1)      So delighted I cannot wait to tell the universe

2)      It is the best thing since the Iphone6 and hot chocolate

3)      Its fine

4)      So far so good but I wish it already knew everything I was looking for in the first 2 sentences

5)      Oh, I thought this was going to be about measuring bat wing sizes so I could compare results.

OK I think you get the picture.

What is an interval scale?

These are amongst the most common related values we see day to day and measure. They are exact numbers with known exact differences between each unit i.e. time, distance, temperature, speed etc.

 

Action is the real measure of intelligence
— Napoleon Hill

Once the correct new scale of measurement is in place you will have improved information sets to ensure the desired behavior changes occur to meet the relevant goal. The measurement system alone will not improve your goal success. Your success will depend on the speed and excellence of behavior change applied.

The measurement scales should not always be set in stone and remain rigid. Look for phases and cycles in goal progress and then adjust accordingly.

For further reading on measurement and measurement scales :-

Stanley Smith Stevens : Theory of scales of measurement

Dail L Fields : Taking the measures of work

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