Today is Your Day

Metrics….does the very word make you cringe?  On opposite sides of the spectrum lie collecting metrics for every operational effort to constant frustration over deciding what should be measured.  The strategic objectives of your organization should actually define what metrics to obtain.  The great temptation is to reap the metrics of operational levels that are easily obtained.  If your organization or board hasn’t struggled with the tension between what should be measured versus what can be measured then today is your day.

Most of you faithful readers have seen our cries for metrics and measurables.  The financial, membership, clients served, subscriptions sold are quite easy to measure.  However, those data points are not the mission and vision of your organization.  How can you measure actual results such as quality of life improvements, community involvement, respect and acceptance?  These lofty goals non-profits aim to achieve are very difficult to measure.  So we look to using imperfect metrics.

But how?  We’ve been trained to collect hard data with quantifiable and inarguable results.  Let’s look at some examples Talley and Fram found in their research:

As part of its accreditation process, the prestigious American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business allows accredited schools to utilize local business executives to conduct mock interviews for assessing graduating students’ communications and presentation skills. The purpose is to obtain the executives’ estimates of the skill levels the students have acquired during their undergraduate years. The insights garnered from these sessions can be interpretative, subjective, and anecdotal, and based on the experiences of the evaluator. Consequently, their comments reflect the viewpoint of each interviewer as much as the actual achievement of the interviewees. In short, it is a very imperfect measure.

Nonetheless, the process can allow the schools to:

Obtain outside perspectives of the communications learning that students have acquired and better understand minimum business expectations.

Improve communications between the faculty and the business community.

Indicate to students that academic content has practical values beyond helping to pass tests.

Provide insights for curriculum change and for faculty research. tracking-progress-and-driving-change.html.

So these imperfect metrics provide some evaluation of student progress, points for improvement, and improved learning and communication.  We will look at more examples in our next blog.




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