The More Things Change

Does the following resonate with you?

“It seems that everywhere you turn, people are talking about performance management; vendors, consultants, press, public sector and commercial organizations alike. Amidst the buzz however, one troubling trend is beginning to emerge. Many performance management projects have languished, burdened by unrealistic expectations, delayed schedules, and intangible benefits. Performance management is in danger of becoming like data warehousing of the early ’90s and customer relationship management of the late ’90s; something everyone does but from which few reap much value.”

You might not be surprised to know that I agree with the above sentiment. After all, I wrote those words in a DM Review article. What’s surprising is that I wrote them in 2005. That’s right, almost 2 years ago.

Unfortunately, despite – or maybe because of – extraordinary growth in the performance management industry, I am even more worried today about the state of performance management.  Most people still confuse better budgeting processes as the heart of performance management. Most still believe that displaying readily available metrics on a dashboard using red/yellow/green traffic lights constitutes performance management. And most advanced practitioners still advocate that strategy must be cascaded from the top down to be successful.

I don’t buy any of those arguments. Financial information should only be a small part of a deployment. Performance management can be about operations, human capital or even innovation. Not all metrics are key performance indicators. In fact, the fewer KPIs, the better. And alignment – the true goal of performance management – can begin anywhere in an organization and spread organically.

The world has changed a lot in the last two years. The performance management industry has changed a lot less than it should have. The more things have changed, the more that they have remained the same.

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