For Metrics, Less is Often More


Metrics are like power and authority—once you’ve tasted them you think the answer is always more.

This is dangerous.

With metrics the problem is that having one or two good metrics is empowering, but having 17 is debilitating. Similarly, drinking a glass of water when you’re thirsty is good for you, but only having water (and no air) when you need to breathe is bad.

It’s all about focus.


Far too many organizations are serving their data rather than having it serve them. They’re overpowered by it. Blinded. Paralyzed.

Simplicity does the opposite: It purifies. It clarifies. It illuminates.

When you feel overwhelmed by the lack of performance in your organization, and you are struggling to gather more and more data to solve the problem, ask yourself a simple question:

Taking action

Here’s a simple process that’s likely to help:

  1. Determine your top five metrics, in order of importance. Get professional help if you need to; this step is critical

  2. Going in order, take the top issue and work on fixing only that one problem

  3. Move to the next one, repeat

  4. Once you’ve done your triage on these top 5 metrics, monitor them long-term and move back to triage mode if any of them slip

Whether it’s “forest for trees”, “10,000-foot view”, or “drowning in data”, the clichés are trying to tell us something:


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