I recently picked up a copy of the local Tampa newspaper and found an article regarding the teachers being upset with the new accountability system. It was not that they were upset about the system. They were upset about the fact that the data collected was not compared to anyone outside of their district.
My immediate thought was to Dr. Mikel Harry’s book “Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations” in which he suggests that we don’t value what we don’t measure. Think about your own organization for a moment. How many times have you been told that is just not how we do things here, but no one from top management down can tell you why? Why would you measure the impact of a process on your organization, if you do not compare it to something? The teachers were upset because the data that came out of the individual schools was not compared to anything meaningful. The same principle applies to the organizational structures. How do you create creditable, verifiable data points if you only judge it by your own actions?
One of the value-based tools in the process of improving our organizations is benchmarking. We do not compare the results from our processes to it self. We compare the results to the entire organization and what others in the same industry are doing to resolve the same issues. With the understanding that our corporate cultures maybe different, the key to our organizations being aligned and innovative is to seek out new ideas and solutions, which will benefit the organization as a whole. This means we have to get out of our preverbal silos. It means we have to accept that we are not always right. It means we have to be willing to recognize that there is always a better way to utilize the organizational processes.
Organizations tend to get into a rut. There is not necessarily anything wrong with creating a standardized work. In fact that should be the goal of every organization. We want to create a process, which is repeatable each and every time we complete that process. When we discover that the process is not performing to our anticipated levels, it is time we change the standard of work. When we discover that the process is not performing to our anticipated levels, it is time we look to entire industry and even better to the entire business marketplace for clues on how to improve the process. That was what the teachers were asking for. That is what our organizations should be asking for.
Dr. Harry’s suggestion that we don’t value what we don’t measure is the key to the solution. For the solutions to our process problems, whether we are talking about HR or another area of the organization, to be a value to the organization we need to measure the problem. We need to see the process as part of a bigger picture. For the solution to have merit it needs to meet several criteria.
First, it must be creditable. The data coming out of our review of the process must have a basis in reality. It must be the direct result of measuring the impact on the organization. We can’t do this by relying on internal data only. We have to look at the whole system view throughout the business world.
Second, it must be verifiable. We can’t expect that the suggestions for improvements are going to be valued if our basis for is the way we always have done things. We must ensure that our recommendations for changes to the corporate culture have a basis in what is proven changes. These proven changes come from solutions that have been verified in the greater marketplace.
The tile of this post asked you why would we do that? It is posing the question the teachers asked. Why would you create an accountability process based on nothing? Why would an organization begin the tedious process of bringing about change to the organization that is based on conjecture and not on creditable, verifiable and repeatable action son the part of the entire organization? The choice is clearly yours to make. We can measure the results of our exploration of the obstacles facing the organization based purely on what we currently do, which is no measure at all. Or, we can look at our processes and compare the suggested solutions to the global marketplace to see what had worked and what has not. By taking the latter route we create recommendations that are creditable and verifiable. It is these data based solutions that will lead the organization to be strategic, innovative and aligned.