Bert Decker's recent post about metric-driven companies rekindled memories of my Intel days. It wasn't until departing from the company in 2001 that I realized there were two distinctly different companies: those that really took metrics seriously, and those that don't. Intel forced managers to measure everything--it didn't exist if you couldn't measure it. This provided a continuous way to keep track of projects and programs, and make sure they were meeting objectives and providing a strong return. Everyone was judged by their results; you could get by temporarily with a good song and dance, but eventually you had to show tangible results--you lived or died by your numbers.
By comparison, I've seen programs run on for years at other companies that should have been put to sleep long ago.
The reason? No clear measurement system.
Bert points out that, "Demonstrating focus and proficiency in measurement will help your career...
"By showing a command of measuring your activities, you will appear in much better control of your area…and thus be given more responsibility. Executives will have more confidence in employees who can manage and measure, and are comforted by employees who can speak and present in their language."
Amen, and please pass this on to your children.
The trick is balancing all this with the creative side. The same systems and processes that can keep projects on track can also suffocate a creative program. For several years Intel allowed me free reign to manage a creative nationally based educational outreach program. We were strongly encouraged--ok, forced-- to measure all of our results. That meant every single media impression, for instance and we had to continue to justify our existence with hard numbers and results. Yet the folks who ran corporate marketing (including the Intel Inside program that we were attached to) gave us enough room to flex our creative muscles and pioneer something that was truly unique--and fun (imagine that). It all had to end eventually, of course, but it proved to me you can have your cake and eat it too: creativity and metrics driven cultures can co-exist, and even flourish. It's too bad we don't see more of it.