It’s a Measure, not a Target

Measurements are useful, but when they become your target, your goal, they are no longer useful metrics. On top of this, we naturally optimize the activities we measure, so if we look at the wrong things, we will often go about our day the wrong way. 

Think about standardized testing in our schools. For all the value in knowing how our kids, the teachers, the system, are doing, if we end up in a place where there’s a tendency to teach to the test itself, almost no one wins from that. Teachers are hamstrung, the kids aren’t learning what they should, and we all lose.

And if you peel off a few more layers of the onion, you often find that we measure things that we CAN, and we don’t capture other metrics that we SHOULD because they are tough to measure. We end up placing more value on what we can measure, and we devalue “soft,” hard-to-capture data. Even the name “soft skills” for example can have an almost-dismissive or negative feel when those are the skills that allow so much of everything else to actually work.

So make sure your target, your goal, is the right one. And let the metrics you use guide and inform you on the way to that goal. An everyday example: Your should want to be healthier, not to lose weight. If being healthier is your goal, then your weight, the foods you eat, how much you eat, and your activity, can be your metrics. But if losing weight is your goal, there are ways to do it that are unhealthy and won’t last. That holds true pretty much everywhere in life.

If you see some of this in your world, or don’t know where to start, let’s talk


Chuck McDanal has more than 25 years of experience in a range of roles, from managing an IT department to working as an editor; from directing a large operation to leading an internet startup and creating a 501(c)(3) nonprofit from the ground up. He has extensive experience in process improvement, data analytics, coaching, mentoring, facilitation, strategic planning, managing and leading. Chuck is a Certified Analytics Professional, an RRCA-certified running coach, has a certificate from the Wharton School in Business Analytics, is a Six Sigma Black Belt, and is a professional coffee roaster. He serves on multiple community boards and organizations, is a graduate of Leadership Lakeland and Leadership Polk, and was named the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce's Businessman of the Year in 2020