• Exponential Advisory

Do we believe in measurements?

Updated: May 14

Dear Friends

In one of the conferences, one speaker said, you cannot measure everything. I have spent a decade in measurements, evaluation, and HR analytics, I differed with him. Of course, measurements often face with obstacles.

We live in a life of uncertainty and to measure this uncertainty is a challenge. I come from the field of Mathematics and Statistics, know that everything can be measured provided you intend to measure and know how to measure. Many models and tools exist which we can use to measure. Dr. Jac Fitz-enz, and Douglas Hubbard have written much on this subject.

When it comes to Business management especially with respect to HR and training, that a question of measurement arises. When I interview HR heads, many often respond that soft skills, policies, HR processes cannot be measured and that there is no use measuring it. Why are HR professionals not confident to measure their own work?

Few thoughts

1. If HR professionals cannot measure what they do then how will they bring value to their role?

2. If HR professionals cannot quantify and measure what they do then on what basis do the management decide their salary increment and incentives, which many feel it is their right.

3. If HR professionals still believe that HR cannot be measured and training does not give ROI, then do we need HR and training departments?

Case in Point: In one of my consulting assignments, I presented our final measurement report on one of their training programs. One person who was a financial auditor said, “all that is mentioned in the report is based on probabilities, ranges, assumptions, and estimations. How do we buy-in this?”

It is ironic that the same person when goes to the medical doctor accepts the medical report full of ranges and assumptions. This same person finalizes the company balance sheet that is full of estimations (as mentioned in the balance sheet - this figure is based on management estimations). When I happen to answer this, he became defensive. I also mentioned to him that this is the way you evaluate risks, uncertainty and do valuation. I failed to understand what stops such people from accepting that measurement is possible. And what is acceptable in finance can be accepted in HR too.

Another example was the people attending the presentation, many were from finance, who had no clue or rather ignored that HR processes, policies can be measured. How many of you have you ever seen HR professionals attending a balance sheet presentation by the auditors?

After all decision sciences, actuarial science and risk analytics is all based on measurements and we can use the same models in business management too. Nobody ever thought that gravity could be measured until Newton came up with the formula. How can we forget Einstein’s theory of relativity?  

Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets done.” Of course, we cannot ignore and eliminate the human element and experience involved in the measurements. Though it is only the human element that believes that measurement is possible.

With Gratitude

Sonali Wagle

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