Seth Godin’s comments today on measurement really hit home with me since I’m a recently minted 6 Sigma Black Belt. My company runs into "measurement freaks" very often…with the end result being a myopic view of a very large set of issues.
In his post, he issues a couple of warnings. Here’s the most important to me,
"But caveat #2 is even more important: the art of business and
organization is in realizing that there are important things you can’t
measure. These ephemeral, soft things are the ones that often
differentiate one organization from another, that lead to one company
winning when all the metrics appear to be the same."
These "soft" items are often discounted in organizations that embrace 6 Sigma. How often would employee turn over reduction or satisfaction be attributed to a software solution that improved efficiency (statistically proven improvements)? Rarely. I’m working on a project right now that will assist the main consumers of my work and research to accept that these "soft" benefits are real and that they will be the difference between being great and being superb. Quality and price are approaching parity in industries where there was a measurable difference in the past. Smart companies are looking for the next new differentiator that will drive their niche leadership. These non-measurables are where they’re looking.