We are working in a golden age of metrics. But the explosion in available data and metrics can give us KPI tunnel vision. It can blind businesses to what’s really most important.
Sky found that it was tracking more that 2,000 KPIs across their business, leading to short-termism and disjointed marketing. They eventually found a way to narrow the KPIs they track to 30.
Nathan Linkon described how a similar problem played out at Pepsi:
“We were in a situation where we had as many KPIs and tracking metrics as there were combinations and brands and countries, which is a lot…
“What the business was left with was a flood of information. You could always find an answer to support the position you where trying to push forward if you used the right data but the context wasn’t there and the business wasn’t able to make those decisions based on the most effective information possible.”
Businesses often track what’s easiest to measure, which leads to lack of alignment of what KPIs matter most.
Or as William Bruce Cameron famously put it in 1963:
“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that be counted counts.”
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years:
6 CommentsJoin the Discussion
Willem van Oppen says
Normal people can simultaneously read, interpret and act on a maximum of five indices. Astronauts are trained to master 7 indices. Anyrhing beyond 5 KPIs is therefore waste
Andy Maclellan says
Excellent comment Willem – if you have alignment across -the – board, then 5 KPIs should be sufficient.
More KPIs encourages the solo bunker mentality……
Bretton Hoekwater says
I absolutely love this! As a marketing analyst, this is one of the problems that I face on a day-to-day basis: clients responding, based on a dashboard, with tunnel-vision. In an age with more data than ever before, this is the most critical responsibility of marketing analysts – to use data and KPIs on a more wholistic level to inform business decisions (NOT using data in a vacuum and to pivot daily).
Love this! And it’s so relevant. Interestingly many do confuse KPI from metrics. Each has its own place and relevance. How you cascade your objectives, to priorities, to KPIs, to underlying metrics – should help bring clarity.
Remo Gubler says
If there are more than five, then they are just PIs, not KPIs.
Stephen Houston says
Insightful words Remo – more than a handful muddies the water