Recently, I got a sports watch as a gift. The watch measures all sorts of things when you’re out running, or walking, or getting carried away to the nearest hospital.
Sometimes, before it displays any stats, the watch adds a comment. But not always.
Suppose on Sunday, I walk out to the driveway and pick up the newspaper. No comment. Not even, “Can’t believe you’re up already! Way to get out of bed!”
And even when it adds a comment, like after a 4-5 mile workout, the watch seems unimpressed. “Nice effort,” is all it says. I suspect it’s being sarcastic.
But what I’ve noticed, since I’ve been measuring things, is that my workouts keep getting longer and longer. The act of measuring is not neutral—it changes behavior.
What are you measuring? That’s a key question.
You can’t measure everything. “Not everything that can be counted counts,” Einstein said, “and not everything that counts can be counted.”
But sometimes we let ourselves, and others, off the hook with vague goals. And then nothing happens.
Suppose you want to improve your communication skills. Ok, how?
“Well,” you say, “I want to be more concise.” Great, let’s measure that. Here’s a possible workout:
1) In one-to-one conversations, talk less than the other person. Instead of rambling on and on, ask at least one thought-provoking question per conversation.
2) In meetings, speak in 30-60 second bites. Provide the headline news first, details later—and only give details if asked. You’ll be surprised by how much you can say in 30 seconds.
3) When presenting, slim down to 10 PowerPoint slides or less. Then cut the words per slide, let’s say, arbitrarily, to 25 or less (limit: 5 lines, 5 words per line). And occasionally, lose the entire deck.
You get the point. I’d like to say more but, according to my watch, I’ve got to run.
Tip: Want better results? Measure.
© Copyright 2014 Paul Hellman. All rights reserved.