You can only manage what you can measure

Management expert Peter Drucker is often misquoted as having said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” What he actually said was a little more nuanced: that measuring results and performance is crucial to an organization’s effectiveness.

“Work implies not only that somebody is supposed to do the job, but also accountability, a deadline and, finally, the measurement of results —that is, feedback from results on the work and on the planning process itself.”

Drucker believed that, when it came to people, not everything that goes into being effective can be reduced to a number or statistic. We have certainly seen this with our remote work policy: our team are empowered to work from where they feel comfortable and most productive, without being forced to spend hours in traffic commuting to and from our office. I can’t give a statistic to tell you what percentage increase in productivity we’ve seen, but our team’s motivation, alignment with company values and enthusiasm for their jobs is clear for all to see.

In IoT, however, the entire point is that things can (and should!) be measured.

In his 2013 TED Talk, General Electric chief economist Marco Annunziata  speaks of the software defined machine infrastructure that allows engineers to remotely monitor, manage and upgrade industrial processes. See the full talk below:

Measurement enables the key benefit of IoT in the industrial context: preventative or proactive maintenance. For example, 10% of all flight delays are due to unscheduled maintenance, costing the global economy $8bn a year. With IoT technology, issues with aircrafts can be identified early to prevent 60 000 delays and cancellations every year in the US alone. Similar applications in mining, transport, logistics and agriculture will bring new efficiency to global industry sectors.

Measurement is a key requirement for IoT’s effectiveness. Equally importantly, it requires motivated people to build and maintain the systems that make IoT work. As we create this new connected world, it is important to not lose sight of the human element – even when we can’t reduce it to easily measurable numbers and statistics.

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Richard Barry

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CEO of Polymorph