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Measure What You Want To See (and You’ll Be Rewarded with More Of It)

Posted by Jonathan Klane on Aug 23, 2021 3:00:00 PM

Previous: Effectiveness vs. Efficiency - Let's Not Confuse the Two

Peter Drucker said, “If you want it, measure it. If you can’t measure it, forget it.” John E. Jones said, “What gets measured gets done.” Or if you prefer, Robin S. Sharma said, “What gets measured gets improved.” 

There are many variations on this theme. 

So, what is it that we want or want to get done or improved?  

I think it’s a safe workplace. But what makes for a safe workplace? Well, two things – safe conditions and safe behaviors. Oh sure, there’s more to it than that. But behaviors and conditions are a good enough start.  

Which are typically easier to control – behaviors or conditions? I think you’ll agree that conditions are generally easier to achieve and maintain. It’s relatively easy to install a guard. And once in place, it tends to stay there. And if one day it’s missing, I’d say it’s from an unsafe behavior – wouldn’t you?  

So, behaviors. Safe behaviors. Like what? Well, how’s assessing risk as a start? Or discussing safe procedures? Encouraging others to put on a forgotten PPE? I’ve heard these the most over the years. Behaviors – safe or unsafe ones – are hard to measure. But they are possible.  

Instead, what gets measured as our intended outcome? Negative outcomes – or rather an absence of them. Like what? Injuries, exposures, lost days, illnesses, incidents, their costs, and even deaths. 

It’s odd when you say it – our intended outcomes are not to have adverse effects. Sure, these absence management metrics exist, but how do we get them (or I suppose not get them)? Behaviors. Safe behaviors. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Safe behaviors become safe habits. And safe habits become norms. And norms become our safety culture.  

Measure what you want to get or improve.

Next: Leading vs. lagging indicators – which matter more?

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