The problem with metrics in the 21st century

06
Sep
The problem with metrics in the 21st century
The problem with metrics in the 21st century
  • Cody Hobbs
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  • ACGI . analytics . Association . metrics . performance . stats .

Without a doubt, understanding your association’s metrics is a crucial part of running your operation.  Like a thermometer, it gives you key insights into how well the various aspects of your organization are running.  And, if studied by a careful and trained eye, it can give you an insight into what direction certain trends are going.

However, you shouldn’t let metric based performance be the end-all and be-all of your decision making guidelines, and here’s why:

  1. Technology moves fast.  This is something we’ve covered here at length, but we only bring it up so often because, in the tech world, it’s such an important fact.  Taking a measurement of how new tech is being utilized, and how much it’s being used is an important measure, but it can miss out on new trends altogether.  If an new technology hasn’t been tested, or hasn’t been in the market for long enough, it may not register on any performance metrics.
  2. The data can give a false sense of confidence.  When looking at a single metric, you are looking at one small piece of many, possibly thousands.  If you notice one technology is doing well, you might assume that is a sign that you should stick with it.  However, you may have a better-suited tool that is being underutilized, or worse, there may be a better tool available that you’re just not counting.  This may not be out of negligence, there are just too many things out there to keep good track of.  Buuuut…
  3. It’s possible to look at too many metrics.  Let’s take baseball as an example; often referred to as the sport of the statisticians.  You might think that this is the case because there are so many numbers to look at.  And at first blush, this is certainly the case.  However, when you look closer, those most successful at predicting the overall outcomes of the season know what numbers to discard just as well as what numbers to include.  This brings us to our final point:
  4. It’s all in who’s reading the numbers.  A good analyst knows the limitation of their given data sets.  And those who interpret numbers professionally have made studying those numbers their livelihood.  If you don’t have a person dedicated, night and day, to just studying trends, it’s likely that they may not have the time to fully utilize what they are looking at.

I think it bears repeating: evaluating metrics is a crucial part of any well-functioning organization, and I’m in no way advocating removing that from your process.  It’s just important to understand that metrics have limitations, and those limitations could be limiting the full potential of your association.

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