Assorted measuring tapes all tangled together.

A Measured Approach to Performance Measurement

By Chally Kacelnik

You’ve probably heard some variation on this saying attributed to Peter Drucker: ‘what gets measured gets managed’. That makes a lot of sense: if you place a spotlight on an aspect of performance, you’re going to manage it the best you can so you can improve or justify what you’re doing. What happens, however, when you’re managing the wrong thing?

I often see organisations coming up with things to measure based on what they can easily extract from their systems, or constructing measures that will look good based on what they have to work with or what’s occurred. I don’t mean to imply that this is because they’re being wily and duplicitous. Rather, it tends to be a result of the organisation setting goals without specific targets and measures attached – or at least not ones that they’ve thought through.

Good performance management starts with setting the right goals and making sure you have the means of measuring performance against them. This means tackling the difficult questions of how the organisation is really doing and how you can know it. Otherwise, rather than managing performance, you’re stuck managing the measures. Time and effort spent struggling to retrospectively figure out what you can do with the information that you have means time and energy not spent on improving performance.

One performance measurement space in which organisations often slip up is customer service.

A silhouetted group gather around an outcrop, the sun low in a yellow sky.

From Narrow to Innovative Leadership and Diverse Organisations

By Chally Kacelnik

At LKS Quaero’s Meeting the Challenge of Amalgamation forum in Sydney in February this year, speaker Jeff Tate shared insights from his extensive experience as a local government expert and former CEO of two South Australian Councils. Listening to Jeff, I was interested in how he tackled gender imbalance in leadership roles when he was a CEO.

I caught up with Jeff after his talk and asked how he found a solution for something so pervasive and that affects people’s whole career paths.

The answer was really simple: you choose candidates based on their skills and capabilities, not a narrow range of previous job titles. You pick the person who’s best for the job, who is not always the person who has had the most normative career path.

This means that you get the right people in the right roles, with a range of life experience and ideas, and you get a more robust, more interesting organisation. In fact, you can apply this sort of thinking to many things in organisational life. If you critically examine your assumptions rather than retreating to the safety of what’s always been done before, you end up with the best possible organisation. This can’t be done by only looking at what’s already been done, but by considering all the possibilities.

So why do we make assumptions about people’s value that limit both people and organisations?

A group of people stand on top of a rock formation against a blue sky with small white clouds.

(Un)surprising Findings from Google’s Quest to Build the Perfect Team

By Sam Robinson

A recent article in the New York Times Magazine, “What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team,” breathlessly told us about ‘new research’ that revealed surprising truths about why some work groups thrive and others falter… and then told us what we knew already about the most highly effective teams.

That’s not a bad thing at all – in fact, it was deeply satisfying to read about yet more evidence that the strength of shared beliefs within teams is the key to that team working well together. This has actually been known for many years and documented extensively in Systems Leadership: Creating Positive Organisations, but perhaps not in the same terms.

The article refers to ‘psychological safety,’ a group culture that the Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson defines as a ‘shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking’.

We tell our clients that culture isn’t simply “what we do around here,” nor is it a complicated abstracted academic concept encouraging analysis only and not action.

When I discuss culture with clients, it’s about “culture” as a group of people who share beliefs about behaviour that (members of the culture believe) demonstrate positive and negative values.