Tagged: performance measurement

Sixty nine (ii)

On presenting their joint findings to the steering team, Michelle and Yvonne put it like this. If your organization is unique, with a unique position in a unique market, with unique mission and vision, and uniquely tailored strategies demanding a unique mix of tactics, is it too great a leap of faith to expect the (optimal) blend of communications to be unique and for communications performance measurement to therefore require a unique and tailored blend of metrics?

To put it another way, your digital nervous system will be tailored to your needs, and ours to our needs. Your communication metrics will help you determine if your digital nervous system is performing as planned, and ours will report the health of ours. Consequently, your metrics will inform your investment decisions, and ours will inform ours.

To put it a third way, your people may have a general preference for soft centers and mine for hard (if you recall the chocolate box paradox).

I don’t want to labor this stuff too much, particularly as I want to leave you fired up for social business, but a few pointers in the right direction here will save you from going through all the learning loops we’ve zoomed around. Here’s one last, important but perhaps subtle point on this topic.

I’ve been talking about measurement for performance management here – in other words, identifying metrics that best drive and report progress in executing strategy. (If we work to grow these performance metrics across the board we will improve our business or identify that our original strategy needs revision.) But measurement for performance management is different to analysis more generally.

Communication is complex, as we have seen, and there is much to be learned, particularly in respect to how influence goes around comes around, to providing sensory feedback. You and your tech team may wish to cut and slice your communications data every which way you can in order to distil insight and understanding, but up to a point that’s quite separate to performance management. And I say ‘up to a point’ simply because your analytical work might unearth an insight worthy of translation into a performance metric.

Sixty nine (i)

So, what are our (leading) non-financial metrics telling us, and have we seen an uptick in our (lagging) financial metrics? Let me first get you up to speed on our deliberations about one particular set of non-financial metrics.

Our intent to understand and harness influence flows demands considerable attention to the measurement of communication, and therefore to media, and this is an area that has consumed more time and effort than we’d originally estimated. It’s trickier than it at first appears.

Performance measurement of communication is dominated by so-called output metrics relating to the content or communication itself, and attempts to determine outcome metrics relating to business success are thin on the ground. A strategic assessment of outputs is impossible however without correlation to outcomes, and even then correlation isn’t proof of cause-and-effect.

Typical output metrics in the public analogue domain include column inches, audience, readership, and ‘opportunities to see’. In the public digital domain the focus is on impressions, number of friends and followers, number of ‘likes’, retweets, clicks, comments etc. You may recall my referring to this sort of thing when describing my meeting with the Goorooz, at least when outputs are considered without reference to outcomes.

And of course there are numerous quantities associated with private digital communications too – for example, who do I contact the most and who contacts me the most? (Personally, for the last three months in a row, it’s been Marcus and Marcus!)

Outputs are relatively easy to gauge, yet measurement-because-you-can-not-because-you-should is a common pitfall when it comes to business performance management. We’ve worked hard to deploy the Influence Scorecard and related guidance (search the web for “measurement and evaluation of communication”) to inform metric design in this regard, and whole books have been written on metrics that might suit your needs.

We wrestled with one particular question – is there a universal measure of communication performance effectiveness?

We’ve concluded there isn’t, as much as it would have been convenient otherwise.