Are you Measuring in Ways that Foster Improvement?

Speed matters in metrics - so those not achieving it are not as satisfied.

Speed matters in metrics – so those whose people can see results in a shift are happier and those not achieving fast processes for metrics are not as satisfied.

We measure nearly everything in our lives.  In business, it’s important to understand your performance and what fosters good performance.  Yet that’s not as easy as it sounds.  Many companies use metrics that do not align with their core business goals.  Others don’t provide views of performance quickly enough for people in a position to change outcomes to act before it’s too late.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to lead a Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) research study on the topic of performance measurement for manufacturing companies.  Pursuit of Performance Excellence is research I’m really proud of and hope everyone finds thought provoking.  We attempted to answer some of the questions that the previous studies in this series have raised.

The summary report is available to anyone for download.  The comprehensive report is for members of MESA International only.  If you are a manufacturer or producer, or if you sell or implement solutions in the manufacturing market, I recommend you look into a MESA membership.  I can help you with that – answer your questions or present to your team too…

A few quick thoughts on effective measurement: metrics must align from corporate to operational to plant to line level.  The process of measurement must be rapid and the results presented in a clear simple way to those whose scope of control includes changing outcomes. Metrics should probably reach across your industry network of suppliers and, if you have them, distributors, dealers or retail partners. Recognize that maximizing one metric’s result is likely to harm another’s so look for balanced results.  Wherever you can, be predictive.  The webcast on this had two phenomenally smart manufacturer participants, so check that out too.

It was my pleasure to present some of what we learned at RSTechEd in June; check out my presentation.  I mentioned this research in the Aviation Week webcast on advanced manufacturing recently too. There is so much data to discuss in this study!

A few key points to remember: Measure to improve.  Don’t punish anyone for mistakes – make them learning experiences for everyone.  Realize that sometimes you will learn more from poor performance than great performance. Look to mature your processes as a major goal. The improvement journey is never-ending – so enjoy it for what it is and learn all you can along the way.


The image is actual data from the research.  Thank you to the sponsors of this research, without whom we’d never know this: Rockwell Automation, SAP, Solarsoft, Tata Consultancy Services, IQity Solutions, and Camstar Systems.

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