Adaptive Innovation | Right Metric, Wrong Metric
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Feet in dirty red sneakers and jeans outdoors. Making first step.

Right Metric, Wrong Metric

Identifying the right benchmarks metrics to adjudicate whether an organisation is successful is critical. So can the wrong metric be the right metric?


Credit Suisse, amongst others believe that the wearable technology device sector will be worth over $50bn by 2018. We all remember the 10,000 steps phenomenon. Do 10,000 steps and get fit. A tribe was born virtually overnight and devices from simple pedometers to complex data wristbands flooded the market.


Fantastic marketing.


From the device manufacturer perspective absolutely the right metric. However many consumers were left disillusioned because despite achieving 10,000 steps daily their health (which invariably is measured by standing on the scales and identifying weight loss) was not achieving the results.


It is no surprise that the health and wellness experts stepped in to clarify exactly the 10,000 steps phenomenon. A 30 minute walk equates to approx. 3.2 kilometres (2 miles) or about 4,000 steps. The outcome is completely different if the walk is a stroll rather than a brisk walk resulting in a safely-elevated heart rate and usually perspiration as recommended by some experts.


Many consumers found simply achieving the 10,000 steps daily was not delivering the outcomes they expected. The outcomes would be completely different if the metric stated ‘ complete a robust, energetic  10,000 steps as detailed by your personal trainer and  adopt a healthier, lifestyle as detailed by your dietitian’


In business it’s absolutely critical to get the metrics right both for the business and individuals. The process, actions, clarity and outcomes must match the metrics.


Metrics need to be measurable, real and accountable.


Problem #1 – it’s a slogan not a metric

In the 1960’s, Yamasa Tokei Keiki Co., Ltd. in Tokyo designed a device (later called a pedometer) and named it “man-po-kei” which literally means 10,000 steps. It is not a definitive metric. There was no correlation between 10,000 steps and being healthy up to this point.


Outcome #1 – Make sure your metric(s) are measurable, accountable and real.


Problem #2 – is it a metric at all?

Is 10,000 steps per day the right metric. Should the metric be minimum 10,0000 steps, with heartbeat of X, at least 10km distance covered?


Outcome #2 – Make sure your metric makes sense, articulates and resonates with everyone. Do you want collect 200 business as the metric, or 200 business converting to 25 new clients as the metric?


Problem #3 – solution for a problem I don’t have

Great the step device works for you so you get one for me. There was no discussion just the assumption because it works for you it works for me.


Outcome #3 – Ensure metrics are relevant.


Problem #4 – it’s become a way of life

When you are constantly checking the steps, your focus is on the metric not the outcome. Metrics have no emotional influence, they are just numbers.


Outcome #4 – Don’t be so focused on a metric that you lose sense as to what is actually happening around you.


In case you’re wondering, I use a Nike+ fuel band – depending on what exercise I’m doing I reach my target between 3,000 and 18,000 steps daily. The focus is on the fuel that I burn not the steps I achieve. My daily target has increased 20% in 12 months and I’ve lost 18 kgs. My goals – measurable and accountable.


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