Nobel Prize-winning physicist Enrico Fermi put the idea of measurement cogently:
“There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery.”
With discovery comes improvement, as consultant Julie Fraser notes in a recent post:
“Measure to improve. Don’t punish anyone for mistakes; make them learning experiences for everyone. Realize that sometimes you will learn more from poor performance than great performance. Look to mature your processes as a major goal. The improvement journey is never-ending, so enjoy it for what it is and learn all you can along the way.”
A report by MESA International explores in detail the issue of performance measurement in manufacturing. A summary of that report is available here, and the comprehensive report is available to members of MESA International.
Fraser weighs in on best practices for effective measurement:
- Metrics must align, from corporate to operations to plant to line level.
- The process of measurement must be rapid and the results presented in a clear, simple way to those whose scope of control includes changing outcomes.
- Metrics should reach across industry networks of suppliers and, if applicable, distributors, dealers, and retail partners.
- Look for balanced results.
- Wherever possible, be predictive.
- Measure to improve.
- Look to mature your processes as a major goal of measurement.
While what you discover may not be earth shattering, as it was in Fermi’s case, it just might shake up your business in profitable ways you hadn’t considered before.