Yesterday’s idea from The Daily Drucker was a very helpful piece on defining quality, which has everything to do with measuring. We’ve been talking about keeping score. Drucker mentions the fact that surgeons measure success rates (survival rates) but points out the fact that in most knowledge work the "main trouble is…not the difficulty of measuring quality. It is the difficulty in defining what the task is and what it should be (p. 160)." His idea is that if you don’t define your task correctly you will measure the wrong thing and if you measure the wrong thing you’ll have a different outcome.
He uses an example of two inner city schools and points out that the difference in their effectiveness is determined by the fact that they’ve defined their task differently. One has simply defned their task as "helping the underprivileged." The other, "enabling those who want to learn, to learn."
We could do the same test for our organizations. Are you measuring the right things? Have you defined the task correctly? It’s worth a careful examination.