Manage vs. Monitor

21 05 2009

It has always struck me as a little odd that a great deal of marketing literature in the Business Intelligence and Performance Management space talks about “monitoring” performance.  Isn’t the entire goal of this space to help companies actively “manage” their business.  My concern is that “monitoring” assumes that all is well unless some alarm is triggered.  

While it is fine for the thermastat to monitor temperature, perhaps business is a tad more complex.  Instead of waiting for things to get to a threshhold, we need to understand a number of things that all work more or less together to explain a more complex concept.  

Instead of just showing up for a meeting, what if we focus on creating a culture of being prepared for a meeting.  We can then use Business Intelligence as a organized and focused set of tools to help with our prep work.

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3 responses

21 05 2009
Jonathan

From my point of view, there are actually 4 M’s: motivate, manage, monitor, and measure.
http://alignment.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/cxous6_pilot_new021.pdf

22 05 2009
Michael Ensley

I agree with Manage, Motivate, and Measure. And I know I am splitting hairs with Monitor, but my argument is more with creating an active culture more so than a passive one. If we are just monitoring numbers, people will wait until they have passed a threshold before they act. This also creates a situation I have always called “chasing reds”. If we only focus on under performing KPIs, we miss valuable time to correct a trend. For example, if my revenue per employee KPI is doing well, but starts to trend down. It may take me 12-18 months for the number to hit “red” status.

22 05 2009
Jonathan

I agree with your concern about “chasing reds”. It may be semantics but monitoring to me is not just metrics; it’s also initiatives.
As I said in My Management Guidelines (http://alignment.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/my-management-guidelines/):

“In my management meetings, I usually avoid discussion of red/yellow/green items and instead focus on trends. To me it’s more important to discuss a green objective trending down than a red one trending up.”

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