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  • ThomasPowell 1:42 pm on January 23, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: business, education, metrics   

    Test Scores, Profits, and Page Views are Measurements, Not Primary Goals 

    I’m a little disturbed by at least a couple of news story themes that I’ve heard recently:  “Can Eliminating [X program] Improve Test Scores?” and “Students to be Moved to Schools to Improve [the school’s] Test Scores.” The former concept sounds like a fishing expedition to find a way to take money from “non-essential” programs. The latter concept sounds like a bureaucratic shell game.

    What if you substituted “Earnings Per Share” or “Page Views” in the place of “Standardized Test Scores” and “public company X” for “school X”?

    Measurements are just one instantaneous interpretation of the health of the mission — whether business or education. In either case, the numbers can be gamed in a given year… shuffling above-average students to underperforming schools, teaching to the standardized test, deferring decisions on actions negative to the bottom line, expediting actions positive to the bottom line, etc…

    How does any of this improve the health of the business or the overall education of the student?

    When you make your measurement your ultimate goal, you neglect the actual mission the organization was founded on–providing value to your customers. You never take the risk of scrutinizing the measurement to improve it, because doing so might set you back against your goal. In never changing how you measure your organization, you develop an ever-widening blind spot for any trouble that’s brewing.

    Have you sacrificed a child’s long term development–eliminating music, art, and physical education–just so that their test scores this year will be better than last year?

    Have you turned away customers for good just to save money on an offshore customer support call center?

    Have you made your site the most awful in the world, just so every visitor generates 50 page views instead of just 1?

    While it may not seem all that relevant, this thinking around measurements (called “vanity metrics” in the book) were inspired by The Lean Startup (affiliate link). It seems that a lot of energy in many endeavors is wasted in coming up with ways to see “how good we’re doing” instead of understanding if we’re truly “doing good” at all. I, personally, think it’s an eye-opening read that may challenge your habits and the habits of your organization.


  • ThomasPowell 10:02 pm on June 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: business   

    Read · 10 (More) Reasons Why Your Business is Tanking 

    · 10 (More) Reasons Why Your Business is Tanking.

    1.  You’re scared to charge what you’re worth.

    Number 1 is the biggest failure point that I’ve seen otherwise good business owners make.  Think about it.  Your plumber won’t show up for less than $70.  Neither will your electrician.  They’ve perfected their craft, licensed, and insured themselves.  How many hours of you screwing up the job is a one-hour, $70+ visit worth?

    Playing music for weddings is similar.  I haven’t played one in a while, but my rate was 2-3 times the going rate for a church service.  I always showed up for the rehearsal (to lower the risk of surprises), and often ended up buying additional music for the service.

    I’ll make an exception for charging less than the going rate.  I will provide my services for free.  That means that I know you well enough to give you my services as a gift, or you represent a charity that I would like to donate my time to.

    Don’t muddy the waters by doing a “favor” and charging less.  The recipient will still have had to pay you, and won’t see the benefit that you provided as you do.  At the same time, you will have received less than your normal rate and not necessarily receive the amount of goodwill you expected.

    Charge what you’re worth.  If you’re not worth a reasonable rate, then you probably shouldn’t be in that line of business, at least for yourself.

    • Mike Campbell 10:11 pm on June 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Agreed. If one is substantially less than market, one is probably delivering poor service. You get what you pay for. As a consumer, price let’s me know up front what the quality will be. Sometimes I want top quality, sometimes average, never poor. I love Highland Cleaner’s motto: We don’t discount quality. I like your idea of charging market value and cherry-picking pro-bono projects.

    • Jason M Blumer 10:46 am on June 11, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Thomas and Mike, “you get what you pay for” is definitely a true adage. And it’s psychological too. If you are charging too little, you typically don’t feel like you are very valuable and tend to offer poor service as a result.

      Just my two cents…

      Thanks for mentioning our post.

      Jason M. Blumer, CPA

    • Bryce Raley 1:04 pm on June 13, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great post Thomas.

      Very insightful and useful for freelancers and consultants.

  • ThomasPowell 7:34 pm on April 6, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: business   

    McDonald’s, the well-oiled machine 

    I have to admit, while McDonald’s offers international customizations, a Big Mac and fries is a pretty predictable offering no matter where you go.  I also find that while McDonald’s doesn’t deliver the highest quality food items, I’ve never experienced unacceptable service or quality.

    Say What You Want | chrisbrogan.com.

    • Bryce Raley 12:19 pm on April 12, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s an example of the franchise model that Ray Kroc created still working years later. You can’t say the same for McDonald’s competitors. Different menus, service and cleanliness depending on where you’re at. McDonald’s food is what it is but the service and quality are very consistent.

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