There’s an old quote attributed to Peter Drucker that says, “What gets measured gets improved”. While I firmly believe this is true, it’s important to understand that what you measure is equally as important as how and why you measure it.
We learned this the hard way in a real-world example from my own business. Many years ago, we tried to gamify reducing the number of hours we’d need to spend in reactive mode supporting our clients. We’re an IT company, so the more time you spend in fire-drill mode, the less impact you’ll have and the more unhappy your clients will become.
So, we created a MiniGame™ to measure the number of hours on our support board over twelve weeks. I made the incorrect assumption that my team knew the how and why behind the what we were trying to accomplish (lower reactive noise). Without any teaching time, the team assumed the goal was to reduce the number of hours on that specific service board. They devised a way to create new and different service boards and began moving service requests outside the area that was being measured.
Did our statistics (the what) improve? Absolutely! Did we have a positive impact on the problem we were trying to solve? Definitely not! In fact, we made the problem worse because we now had additional service boards that weren’t being fully managed and problems were not being addressed in a timely manner.
The team was surprised when I wasn’t happy with our results and they didn’t understand why, especially when they’d done exactly as we discussed and reduce the number of hours on the reactive service board.
It’s important that everyone using scoreboards understands that the purpose of the numbers is to tell a story. In order to be effective, you have to know the how (the mechanics and elements that impact the number) and the why (the purpose of the number as an indicator of success) behind the number itself.
This was a painful but valuable lesson we learned and it’s helped us teach scoreboarding along the way.
To learn tips and best practices to motivate employees and measure progress through scoreboards, join Eric Rieger at the 27th Annual Gathering of Games where he will present an educational session on the topic.
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