Dr. Nicole Tschierske

Making Sense of KPIs and Metrics with Mark Graban

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators and is the language of business. It’s the measurement tool used to evaluate performance. When I recently interviewed Mark Graban for the Better Work podcast, we explored how to use KPIs and metrics in a meaningful way. 

(You can also 👓 read the corresponding article or 📷 view the bite-sized version.)

In this episode of the Better Work podcast you’ll learn six principles to make the most out of KPIs and metrics:

✅ Create an environment where people want to be part of improvement initiatives.

✅ Don’t obsess about metrics and KPIs, but focus on processes and results.

✅ Use data wisely to make decisions.

✅ Once you’ve identified a statistically meaningful signal, ask „What has changed?“.

✅ Don’t seek to optimise, but pursue the ideal.

✅ Measure as much as possible, but don’t overreact to what you see.

Main Takeaway:

There’s a common theme in this episode: Understand the difference between assumptions and knowledge.

  • Do you know performance has gotten worse? Or do you think it has gotten worse?
  • Do you know there’s a trend in the data? Or do you think there’s a trend in the data?
  • Do you know the root cause? Or do you have a hypothesis about the root cause?

How do we test our assumptions? If we have a hypothesis, are we open to disproving it? That’s what scientists would try to do.

It’s not about proving ourselves, but see if we can learn and close the gap between our assumption and reality.

Listen to the full conversation: 

Mark Graban is the author of many books, including Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He’s also the host of many podcasts, including “My Favorite Mistake. Mark earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University, an MS in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from MIT.


Further Reading

Better Work Basics​