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Make Measurement Fun: Playing the name game

by Stacey Barr, Performance Management Specialist, Stacey Barr Pty LtdFriday, August 6, 2010

We name our cars, our boats, our properties—especially freestyle motocross jumps. There is even a motorcycle stunt called the “Heart Attack” where the rider jumps the bike and in mid-air does a handstand with one hand on the throttle and one hand on the seat. Naming things makes them somehow more connected to us, a relationship of sorts.

So it’s a great idea to be very deliberate about naming your performance measures, because it marks their birth, the point at which you bring them to life. And the more fun and memorable the names of your measures, the more engaged you and others will feel with them.

Make it fun: Measure names don’t have to be dull. Isn’t “Not Happy Jan!” a groovier name than “Employee Complaints”? And wouldn’t you love a measure called “True Fans”, to track the number of superstar customers who gobble up every service or product you offer? (“Superstar Customers” — another cool name!) How about “Spin Cycle” as an alternative to “Delivery Cycle Time”? Or “Keeping The Wheels On”, to measure mean time between IT disruptions to business activities?

But there are a few other conditions you want to meet as well as making the measure’s name fun and memorable:

  1. Use 2 to 5 words: You don’t want the name of your measure to be a mouthful or tongue twister. So keep a limit on it, and try to name your measure in 2 to 5 words only.
  2. Make it unique: There should only be one measure in your company or organisation with a particular name. Avoid confusion and duplication, and you’ll save immeasurable time and effort.
  3. Make it clear: Make the name of your measure as meaningful as possible and always, always, always have a clear description of the full meaning of the measure, to accompany it’s name in reports, graphs and business plans.

About the author:

Stacey Barr is a specialist in organisational performance measurement, helping corporate planners, improvement officers, business analysts and performance measurement officers confidently facilitate their organisation to create and use meaningful performance measures with lots of buy-in.
Sign up for Stacey’s free email tips at www.staceybarr.com/202tips.html and receive a complimentary copy of her renowned e-book “202 Tips for Performance Measurement”.

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