Monday, November 23, 2009

The Great Debate - Measurement

i am hoping to start a healthy debate with this one. I am reading a book and this sentence jumped out at me:

You simply can't improve what you don't measure.

I am not sure I agree, but I can't put my finger on any arguments against it. What do you think? Can you improve something that you don't measure?


Jamie Notter said...

The statement is accurate, but not always helpful. True, you can't improve something if you don't measure it. Improve = make better, which requires you to know what it was and what "better" is, or at least why what you have now is better. But there an infinite number of ways you can measure something, with numbers being one tiny piece of it.

I think the statement has been used to argue that if you can't attach quantitative measures, then you're lost, and I disagree with that. Like the debate going on over at Acronym about ROI of social Media. I think we overinflate the importance of quantitative (and financial) measures.

The helpful part of the statement, though, is to push people to be much more aware of how they know what they know. We often want to skip measurement (awareness) because it's hard, and just hope that we're improving. I don't support that either.

Wes Trochlil said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wes Trochlil said...

Um, I don't know how that last post got there. Matt, can you delete it?

What I WANTED to say is this:

You can most certainly improve something that is not measured, but you can't PROVE you improved it without some kind of measurement.

I think that's why one does need quantitative measures whenever possible. If one tells me "Our social media efforts are paying off" I'd most certainly respond, "Really, how can you prove that?"