Performance Management and www.smartKPIs.com
Launched in November 2009, www.smartKPIs.com was met with overwhelming interest by tens of thousands of visitors from over 160 countries. A base of regular visitors quickly formed in a relative short period of time and it continues to grow with many registering as site users daily.
Why such interest in the subject of Performance Management and more specifically Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?
What sets smartKPIs.com apart in addressing this interest in the subject?
On Performance Management
Business Performance Management is a dry subject for many. At individual level, annual performance reviews have been compared to preparing tax returns – it is hard to find someone who takes pleasure in completing them, but they are necessary and regular.
For others the topic is complex and rewarding. At company level, Performance Management Systems have been compared to washing machines that have to be properly installed and configured in order to operate as desired (Meekings et al, 2009).
Performance Management is still in the early stages of being established as discipline and the lack of standards makes using tools and concepts from this field a challenging task. There is a certain degree of confusion in the way terminology is used in the discipline both within academic literature, in practice and between them.
Faced with the challenging task of finding coherence in this universe of mostly unstandardised concepts, practitioners welcome tools and methodologies that bring clarity, structure and simplicity to Performance Management. The success of the Balanced Scorecard over the last 20 years is proof of that.
smartKPIs.com fits in this picture as a platform based community that can be used to:
1. Learn more and improve the understanding of Performance Management concepts
2. Review examples of Key Performance Indicators that went through a thorough documentation process
3. Manage personal libraries of KPI examples, selected by users as most suitable for the performance management initiatives they are involved in.
4. Source templates that can be used in better structuring the documentation used as part of organisational performance management frameworks or systems.
The world abounds with Performance Management consultants and there are many resources available on the Internet. smartKPIs.com is not the first, nor the latest online platform available to the wider public.
What sets smartKPIs.com apart is:
- The combination of insight from practice with academic rigor. We value academic research and use its findings and principles. At the same time, abstract concepts are much better understood when analysed in context, in practice. In addition, practice refines such concepts and contributes to their evolution and usability.
- The ability to structure information in clear taxonomies, simplifying the analysis process. This enables visitors to better understand the discipline of Performance Management and the use of KPIs as a core organisational capability. The benefits, although indirect are to be seen at both personal and organisational level: “ I am convinced that the first essential of business success is the capacity for organized thinking” (Follett, 1940)
- Expertise in the field of Performance Management, through a “community of inquiry”. The definition of an expert is relative. Today, same as in old times, anyone can claim to be an expert in anything. Mark Twain is credited with using the phrase “an ordinary fellow from another town” as an explanation to the term. Will Rogers is credited with using the phrase “a man fifty miles from home with a briefcase” to express the same. In our times, the number of miles increased considerably and the briefcases were replaced by blogs, websites and accounts on social networking sites. In developing expertise we took the long but steady road of academic study, combined with learning from practical experience and generating new insights. Our approach to learning from practice is action research and it follows Peirce’s inquiry process of abduction, deduction and induction (Barton et al, 2007). More importantly, we have done over 10,000 hours of deliberate practice in the field of Performance Management both at team level and individual level by some of the team members. Academic research supports a causal relationship between the accumulated deliberate practice (guided, highly structured learning activity) and the level of expertise in an area. Deliberate practice being a “highly structured activity, the explicit goal of which is to improve performance” (Ericsson et al, 1993). Having said that, we are great believers in the power of collective intelligence. We see ourselves as informed facilitators of the interaction, collaboration and learning process that smartKPIs.com users will participate in.
One metaphor that I think describes smartKPIs.com is comparing it to a tree.
- It first needed a fertile land – Performance Management
- A seed – myself as Performance Architect
- A period of growth – the many years of deliberate practice
- Branches – the team behind smartKPIs.com
- Flowers – its website content
- Nectar – the quality of the content
- Bees – visitors of the website
- Cross-pollination – the exchange of ideas in the online community
- Fruits – Financial self sustainability of the website
- Honey – Value generation for visitors, fed back into their organisations.
Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. Th. and Tesch-Römer C.(1993), The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance, Psychological Review, Vol. 100, Nr. 3, pp. 363-406.
Follett, M. P. (1940), Dynamic Administration. The Collected Papers of Many Parker Follett, edited by Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, Harper & Brothers, New York, London
Meekings A., Povey, S. and Neely, A. (2009), Performance plumbing: installing performance management systems to deliver lasting value, Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 13-19
Barton, J, Stephens, J. and Haslett, T (2007), Action Research: An Exploration of its Logic and Relationship to the Scientific Method. Proceedings of the 13th ANZSYS Conference – Auckland, New Zealand, 2nd-5th December, 2007 Systemic Development: Local Solutions in a Global Environment