Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Find the Right Metric: The NYPD and Prostitution

Looking at the wrong thing to achieve goals is more dangerous than having no goals.  When picking KPIs for executive dashboards, it's critical that we choose wisely, and that we're prepared to change.

So often, once dashboards are created, they seem to be set in stone.  When an executive says a metric is important, it is sometimes difficult to speak up against them and say that perhaps we're looking at the wrong thing.   If we're somewhat flexible on what we see, and we're willing to change in the future, it provides a safe place where mistakes can be made.  

The New York Police Department will often search suspected hookers to see if they are carrying an abnormal amount of condoms.  If they are, they use that as proof against the suspect that they are a sex worker.  Although this seems to satisfy the metric that prostitutes be arrested and off the street, it ignores the bigger goals of public health and safety.  It incentives women to not carry protection, thus spreading disease and sickness through the population.

The NYPD is looking at the wrong metric.  I suppose this is the risk when you use law enforcement to work on what is probably a primarily public health problem.

If call centers look at average call time, and they want the number as low as possible, because that means they are saving money, they might be looking at the wrong metric.  It might be incentivizing rude customer service, abruptness, and poor call etiquette.  Measuring customer satisfaction or absolute resolution time might be a better number to look at.  Perhaps low calls into the center will emphasis the quality of the product you're selling and how easy it is to use.

But mistakes will always be made when selecting metrics and KPIs.  The trick is to make sure that the technology and the business are both able to quickly and effectively change it when the mistake is realized.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Just Venting A Little

Feel free to ignore this post.  I'm writing for me and to get something off my chest.  I'm absolutely not writing to you.  Nor am I disappointed with anyone in particular.

I am often asked by software developers and other consultants about how to be successful.  Now, I don't consider myself to be successful.  I enjoy my career and like where it's at.  I'm excited about where it's going.  I enjoy the process of learning new technology and making new friends and meeting new people and advising customers on how to be successful and profitable.

With that said, I'm often asked about how to be successful.  When I have these conversations, I find that everyone already knows everything I have to say.  They know how to make more money, how to gain recognition, how to achieve...and they knew it before they even asked me the question.

They don't need answers from me.

Their answers all come from within.  Yet time and time again, they fail to execute.

I am consistently disappointed at the small percentage of people willing to execute the simple daily self-disciplines needed to reach higher levels of success.  They know exactly what they must do to bring about their dreams and yet they fail to execute.  It's not a failure of vision or's a FAILURE OF ACTION AND COMPLETION.

They chart their work by the progress they've made, not with any specific goal.

I know that the person who achieves in this business is the person with passion....the person who wants it the most.  They are the people who wake up at 5am to read Hacker News.  They are the people who are writing blog posts at 11pm.  They are the people who spend their weekends speaking and learning at Code Camps and SQL Saturdays.  They are the people who volunteer and attend user groups.  They accept no excuses.  While others are watching TV show after TV show, they are learning, reading, digesting, blogging, tweeting, and writing.

It seems that there are very few people who are willing to put forth the effort to get from where they are to where they want to be.  Most make excuses and blame others for their own poor choices.  They kill the messenger.

Some of you will discredit me.  Some of you will say things like "Who is Ike to say these things to me?"  or "Ike isn't perfect either.  I know he makes mistakes."  Some of you will find other ways to ignore what I'm saying, belittling me or my success.  That's totally fine. 

But others of you will take this opportunity to look inside yourselves and ask if you are doing everything you can to learn, grow, market, achieve, raise bill rates, provide value, write, and succeed.  Others will humbly ask "If I know what it takes to succeed, what excuses are getting in my way of taking ACTION and actually achieving?"

I know you know what to do.  You have all that you need to be self-sufficient, to earn more money, to achieve respect and recognition, to contribute value to your community.  GO FORTH AND DO IT!