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Defining meaningful measures without data

Impact measurement and evaluation 16th October 2018

Do you need data before you can shift performance levels in the right direction? People constantly underestimate the value generated from simple awareness. Creating that focus on achieving a result within your team can have a significantly positive impact on performance before you even measure it, just because it’s at the forefront of their mind.

Of course, you need data to evidence that shift, and feedback to how you either continue or consolidate the improvement. A measure is developed when we have a performance result or goal that needs to be achieved. The measure will give us the evidence of when/if that goal is achieved. But before any progress is made, such a measure has served us in several very useful ways already:

1. Definition of the performance goal

Even before we get our data, the decision to achieve a performance goal provides focus in a team, and helps them make decisions with the goal in mind. The data provides us with evidence of our progress, but it’s our decisions that move that line.

2. The psychology of measurement

We have a psychological awareness of what is being measured. It changes our behaviours, whether it is a team measure, or a personal one. When a change in measurement is discussed, a change in what is important to people changes too, before the data is even collected.

3. Bridging the performance gap

We don’t have the data to tell us how big that gap is, but if we’ve identified it as important, there is a belief that some change is required. The data will tell us how much of an impact those changes created, but that doesn’t stop us starting to make a positive difference.

Data provides evidence and context for our performance goals, but achieving the goal needs our intervention a lot of the time too. Creating the awareness of the goal starts the process of improvement, the data proves it.

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