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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 19 February 2007
Decision-makers now realize the importance of measuring only what really matters, especially at all levels and throughout all areas of the given enterprise. The question remains, how to do that effectively and efficiently? In this volume, Dean R, Spitzer responds to that important question when offering a comprehensive, cohesive, and cost-effective methodology by which to do that. He asserts that it is necessary to rethink how to measure performance in order to drive organizational success. In his previous books (Super-Motivation, Info-Line co-authored with Malcolm Conway, and Improving Individual Performance), he introduced a number of core concepts, which he develops in much greater depth in this volume. He again asserts that the key to success (however defined) is accurate and consistent measurement. He goes on to suggest that "the context of measurement will largely determine its effectiveness" and his explanation of what a proper context is and why it is so important separates his book from so many others that address many of the same issues. "The purpose of this book is not about doing measurement; it is about creating an optimal environment (context) for its effective use." He achieves that purpose and that is why I hold this book in such high regard.

One of the recurring themes in Spitzer's book is the need for "measurement leadership" throughout the given enterprise. "Creating and sustaining an environment conducive to innovative measurement is a key leadership responsibility. Some of the most important qualities for organizational success in the new economy are already the most important components for transformational measurement - intangible assets like talent, trust, knowledge, and collaboration. And that is why transformational performance measurement is more of a social than a technical issue." As Spitzer already understands so well, many (most?) workers feel threatened by the term "performance measurement." They feel even more threatened by initiatives to transform an entire organization.

Thus, in this context, "social" and "cultural" have essentially the same meaning. Barriers to change initiatives are inevitable. Those which usually prove to be most difficult to overcome are the result of what James O'Toole has so aptly characterized as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom."

Obviously, accurate and consistent performance measurement offers a number of substantial benefits. Spitzer identifies these: directs behavior, increases the visibility of performance, focuses attention, clarifies expectations, enables accountability, increases objectivity, provides the basis fir goal-setting, improves execution, promotes consistency, facilitates feedback, increases alignment, improves decision-making, improves problem-solving, provides early-warning signals, enhances understanding, enables prediction, and motivates. That's quite an impressive list of significant benefits. But all change agents are well-advised to keep in mind, as they proceed, what Peter Drucker suggests in an article written for the Harvard Business School Journal, published in 1963: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." Whatever the given goals and objectives may be, the efforts to achieve them must not be compromised by whatever and whoever are- in Drucker's term - "useless."

I especially appreciate the fact that Spitzer is a pragmatist. He devotes far more attention to the "why" and "how" of transformational performance measurement than to the "what." His observations and suggestions are obviously based on an abundance of real-world experience. For example, here's a brief excerpt from Chapter 11, "The Uses and Abuses of measurement technology":

"Most analysts agree that organizations that are most successful in [business performance management] and other performance-related technologies do not view the data as the end result, but use it to establish dialogue. That is why it is so vital to understand the proper role of technology in performance measurement. One of the biggest errors made is confusing `the technology' with `the system.' Make sure you understand that the technology should never be your organization's measurement system." Jeanne Ross and her co-authors make essentially the same point, in Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: "The focus needs to be higher - on enterprise architecture, the organizing logic for core business processes and IT infrastructure reflecting the standardization and integration of a company's operating model...[Therefore] enterprise architecture boils down to these two concepts: business process integration and business process standardization. In short, enterprise architecture is not an IT issue - it's a business issue."

This is by no means an "easy read" but it will generously reward those who absorb and digest its material with meticulous care. Whichever methodology selected for a transformational performance measurement program, much of the information and counsel Spitzer provides in this volume will help guide and inform the design and implementation of such program. I think the methodology Spitzer presents in this book is eminently sensible and practical, as well as quantifiable. However, obviously, it remains for each reader to determine which methodology is most appropriate for her or his own organization.
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"A brilliant read, At last - a jargon free resource for measuring performance, Dean Spitzer tells it as it is - a must read - for every public servant. If you are going to measure anything at all (other than the journey!!) - read this book first. "
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