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Management Resource Library

Score Only What is Helpful!

The social visionary Michael Toms said it best: "We are glutted with data and yet there is a shortage of wisdom."

Does your score keeping track useful metrics? Or does it produce data that no one really uses? Finding the right metrics is not always an easy task. A good place to start is to challenge what you are currently producing. Who gets it? Do they use it? Is it what they need?

Times do change! What might have been helpful in 1975 might no longer do the trick. Let me share with you a story about a new plant manager we'll call Tom who was assigned to turn around a troubled manufacturing facility.

Tom was hard at work. He'd spent his first week trying to get an overview of the plant operations and the challenges he was facing. He meet with his team, he smoothed relations with the union, and contacted and re-assured key customers. He noted that every morning he found a six inch high stack of computer printouts in the upper left hand corner of his desk but he had been to busy to look at them so they became a three foot stack in the corner of his office. Tom was working late when Bob, one of his key direct reports stopped by. As they chatted, Tom asked Bob about the daily stack of printouts. Bob revealed he received the same stack each day as did the top dozen managers in the facility. Bob also confessed that he seldom looked at them and did not use them to manage his activities.

Tom and Bob then took a walk down the hall to the EDP department. The staff was gone for the evening, but the "daily report" was printing away on an old dot-matrix high impact printer and the report was being burst into the individual stacks that would be delivered to desktops early in the morning. Tom walked over to the printer and stopped it. He took his trusty Cleveland Indian ball point pen and wrote as hard as he could so it would penetrate all the copies, "I'll pay $1,000 to anyone who reads this!" and then he signed his name. How many checks do you think Tom wrote out the next day? Zip, zero, nada! The old physics law of inertia (a body at rest tends to remain and rest and a body in motion tends to remain in motion) had permeated the plant over the years. Reports that no one needed, no one understood and no one used had taken on a life of their own.

We are creatures of habit and it's easy for complacency to set in. When was the last time you took a cold hard look at your existing information systems and the output they generate? You might be in for a nasty surprise. To stop doing the uneccessary is a big first step towards an improved information system.