Project managers love metrics and rightly so. Metrics provide the heartbeat of the project and help us determine whether the ship is headed in the right direction at the right speed. There is a fundamental problem with purely relying on numbers though. Optimism bias and strategic misrepresentation ensure that numbers always do not tell the complete story. It is essential for us as project managers to walk past that glass door and be on the field to have a real understanding of the story beyond the numbers.
This is not to discount the value and importance of metrics completely. But essentially to know and accept that they are not everything.
As Albert Einstein rightly put it “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”. You need to have an open mind and be more connected to the field and be in the details to bring out the complete story. It brings several advantages:
- You will discover the underlying factors that are influencing the numbers much faster .
- You will be able to co-relate the indicators from the various matrices.
- You would identify potential problems that would not be discovered by the existing metrics
- You can discover that some metrics are redundant and not worth tracking that closely whereas there are others which need to be added or given more focus.
- With better understanding of the details, you can find together with your teams unique creative solutions to the problems.
Right and effective execution is a key to successful project and ensuring that you have the complete story – with and without the numbers – is one step ahead in ensuring that.
Such holistic metric based execution allows you, the project manager to engage in meaningful conversations around the results and helps you solve problems, make improvements and build stronger effective relationships with your teams.