10 Ways to Measure What Can’t be Measured

10 Metrics for Marriage (and other things)

If you’ve ever caught yourself putting bullet points in a love letter, then this article is right up your alley. (If not, please hang in there… I AM going somewhere.)

Can you measure love?

I think you can come pretty close. Here’s a list of ten numbers that could be readily tracked, and would correlate to the quality of a relationship.

  1. Number of Dates per month
  2. Number of Minutes together / day
  3. Number of Arguments per week
  4. Number of Text messages per day
  5. Number of Words of affirmation
  6. Number of Words of affection
  7. Number of Times “I love you” said
  8. Number of Negative words spoken
  9. Number of Smiles
  10. Number of TV shows watched together

These won’t fully represent any relationship… but they would tell an important part of the story, wouldn’t they?

Back to Business

Here’s the point of this: if you can measure the quality of a love affair or marriage relationship, then you can CERTAINLY put numbers around the success of your marketing campaign or the value of your strategic consultant or your insurance broker’s service level.

That may have been a jarring transition, so let’s pan back to the big picture.

  • We’re looking this month at an essential buying skill that cannot be outsourced: defining success of our projects and purchases. (More here.)
  • To clear the deck, we first make sure we’re not doing things for the wrong reasons. (More here.)
  • Then, we confirm that we are doing things for the right reasons. (More here.)

If we come this far, we are pointed at the right target. That’s something, sure… but we need to get there.

How will we know we’re successful? THIS is where the numbers come in.

Moving from Opinion to Fact

Defining success with the right numbers puts everyone on the same page and confirms your direction. Without numbers, you are guessing and working from instincts. Different people have different hunches, which means numerous opinions about whether something is working or not. (Remember what Dirty Harry said about opinions?)

Of course, people also will disagree about which numbers define success. That conflict is an opportunity to reinforce strategy and build buy-in… especially if it comes before you spend the money. If you don’t stop planning (or start buying) until you have crystal clear goals with numbers, your plans will be rock solid.

You CAN Measure It

There are many excuses to not measure success. The worst is “we can’t measure that,” or “it can’t be quantified,” or “it’s a soft contribution” or something along those lines.

Since you’ve read this far, you don’t have that excuse any more. Sorry. The numbers are there – for marriage, or for your project.

Let’s pick a ‘soft’ project of improving company culture. Imagine that your company has made this a priority or hired a consulting firm to help in this area. But how do you measure successful culture?

Here are a few possible ways:

  1. Churn rate of top performing staff
  2. Average tenure of senior executives
  3. Number of complaints about customer service
  4. Number of job applicants who mention culture as a reason to join
  5. Employee survey results on morale
  6. Number of employee referrals for new hires
  7. Employee survey results evaluating bosses
  8. Hits on the ‘about us’ page of the website
  9. Attendance at optional employee events
  10. Mentions on ‘great places to work’ or ‘top employer’ lists

I’m not a culture expert… I just brainstormed a list and some of those are good. All are quantifiable with very little work. It may be that tracking three or four of these – or maybe just tracking one – will be enough to demonstrate that the project is a success.

Are You Working toward Numbers?

What are your top strategic goals? When you achieve them, will it be a matter of opinion or a matter of metric?


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