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Even More Metrics

(March 15, 2006)  It's really worth following the conversation in Jeff Hunter's Blog (Talentism). We move in bite sized topics (by design) and hope that the conversation starts at your water cooler or lunch table. Jeff, on the other hand, is an excellent host who takes the time and energy to engage in a long conversation. These days, the rumbles from the conversation on metrics are finding a delicious conclusion in Jeff's offering.

Our latest input to that conversation follows:

Measurement is not a one time thing, it's an ongoing process. The question is not, "Does this blog provide value today?". Measurement is an ongoing process designed to make management easier. Metrics are a part of a deep, ongoing conversation about the thing, person or process which is under management.

The mechanisms discussed so far have an enormous amount of overhead. If you conducted them routinely, the management of the blogging process would simply be too time consuming. Charted and graphed, ongoing metrics provide a usable shorthand for that important but expensive underlying conversation.

Let me say it again: Metrics are a sign of an ongoing conversation. We use them to allow the entire organization to participate in a deep conversational process. We use them to fight the creeping tide of mediocrity. We use them to make what we do better and better. The core conversation involves issues like:
- What is the value and is that still valuable? (How is it helping the organization?)
- How can we achieve that value more effectively? (Can we do this faster, cheaper and or better?)
- How is the value changing over time?" (Is it still relevant, should we change something?)

I still have my original problem with the way the Microsoft folks articulate their vision. The idea that blogging should be left unmanaged and unmeasured assumes a couple of things about the organization and the blogger:
- That the organization is wealthy enough to afford to do unmeasured things;
- That the blogger is trusted enough to be allowed to impact the company's image; and
- That both of these things are inherently good ideas.

We're all early adopters of technology. The idea that our toys can be justified on the basis of the fact that we like them is the way that early adopters see things. The "chasm" between early adopters and the rest of the world always involves quantification.

For blogging to spread as a useful tool for businesses, it needs to cross the "chasm". My interest is in doing the things that will make blogging spread into small and medium sized operations as a matter of course. This only happens when value and process can be quantified.

That's really just a synopsis of Geoffrey Moore's widely accepted argument. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_the_Chasm I

In the end, usable metrics make things like blogging easier to implement. Rather than fully change consciousness to engage in a new subject, a manager can simply review an agreed upon measurement. This opens the management process to take on more pressing things.

In a strange way, not having metrics can be a good thing. The situation forces the manager to either pay very close attention to blogging and the blogger or forces her to let go and trust. That might be a good way to preserve editorial integrity.

It's a very difficult example to follow.

 John Sumser

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