Transforming Performance Measurement: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: July 1st, 2011 by bobmorris

Transforming Performance Measurement: Rethinking the Way We Measure and Drive Organizational Success
Dean R. Spitzer
AMACOM (2007)

How to measure only what really what matters…and do it right

In this remarkable volume, Dean Spitzer urges his reader to re-think how to measure and drive organizational success, whatever the size and nature of the give organization may be. He offers a number of performance measures and ways of measures that can have a “transformational impact” on the way people in organizations view the work, their products, their associates, and their customers. He asks his reader to begin to view measurement itself “through a new lens” when correlating the material in this book with her or his own organization. “Perhaps the most surprising truth covered in this book is that the ‘context of measurement’ [i.e. ‘an optimal environment for its effective use’] will largely determine its effectiveness.”

At this point, it should be noted that Spitzer offers two significant reassurances in the Introduction: transformational measurement doesn’t require a major change in a business structure or systems, “but only in how you think about measuring your organization; moreover, “on those occasions when measurement is used for the purpose of improvement rather than to make judgments or place blame, and when it is focused on the right measures, its true power is revealed.”

After an especially informative Introduction, Spitzer carefully organizes his material within and 13 chapters as he explains why transformational measurement is so powerful, what happens when measurement “goes bad, why it does so, the beginning of the transformation process, how to create a positive context of measurement, on what to focus when measuring, how to integrate measurement, the nature and extent of interactivity of measurement, the leadership required by effective measurement, what can be learned about and from measurement, what the uses and abuses of measurement technology are, how to achieve and then sustain “performance measurement maturity,” and then in Chapter 13 for purposes of review, what transformational measures are and aren’t as well as what they offer in terms of their capabilities and potential benefits.

Then in his final chapter, after having established a multi-dimensional frame-of-reference (i.e. a proper “context”) for his own core concepts, Spitzer examines 34 different transformational measurement “action plans.

I strongly recommend that this material, in Chapter 14, be reviewed at least every 3-6 months because the needs and interests of a given organization, as well as the perils and opportunities within its competitive marketplace, are certain to change and thus modifications of its own “game plan” must be made in response to those changes.

Spitzer would be among the first to insist that only a fool would attempt to apply all of the core concepts, basis principles, strategies, and tactics he discusses. It remains for each reader to absorb and digest this material first, then be informed and guided by it when formulating and then implementing a “game plan” for her or his own organization. Whatever the structure and details of that plan are, it must respond to four questions:

1. What is most important to our success?

2. What specifically must be done to achieve that success?

3. How can we accurately and consistently measure our performance – both as individuals and as an organization -when seeking that objective?

4. In process, how can we take full advantage of every learning opportunity and then apply what we have learned in a timely and effective manner?

What we have here in a single volume is just about all anyone needs to know about how to formulate, implement, improve, and meanwhile sustain a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective program by which to “measure and drive organizational success.”

Congratulations to Dean Spitzer on what I consider to be a brilliant achievement.

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