By Joe Heapy
Although metrics, measurement and target setting may seem more linked to service management than design, metrics have an important role to play in achieving the vision of a service. Service metrics define how a service will be built and how it will work. Designed metrics are needed to operationalise a new service.
Much of the discussion and effort around service measurement is linked to the fine-tuning of an existing operating model. The more glamorous strategic role for service metrics is not often considered.
The strategic side is when start-ups and organisations with established business metrics will, at some point, articulate a vision or set a strategic direction. Visions and strategies can be communicated in broad terms with bold statements about the future of the service, organisation or indeed the planet. However, making a vision a reality needs specifics.
A helpful test of whether a statement of vision or strategy is specific enough to be made real is whether the output or outcomes it implies are themselves measurable. For example, if a company wishes to become the 'most loved [insert service or industry type] brand in the world', then the next step is to break down into very clear statements what it will actually mean in concrete terms to be 'most loved'.
A description of the aspiration needs to be translated into aspects of the service or business that can be measured.
This discussion leads us to a good example of 'top-down' versus 'bottom-up', for as organisations routinely reframe their vision and corporate strategy, they often continue to measure the things they have always measured.
A new vision or strategy implies that certain aspects of what an organisation does are now more important than they were - or that something completely new has now become more important.
Similarly, aspects of the operating model and service may no longer be important enough to continue measuring - data from these metrics may simply be a distraction.
Operationalising a new strategy, or indeed a new service, should trigger organisations to question what they are or are not measuring, and why it's important.