December 4, 2018

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Andrew Bergen

Measure What You Value

This week, I listened to a Podcast from Freakonomics Radio called “Where Does Creativity Come From?”. If you are looking for a recommendation for a good podcast, I’d suggest Freakonomics – very divergent and evocative thinking is presented in their work. The episode in question aired on October 24, 2018.

One of the people being interviewed for the show said that creativity is often limited because we are quick to value the things we can easily assess. For example, it is easy to assess students on a standardized reading test. But is a good score on a reading test what we truly value? How about matters such as the ability to problem solve in unique situations? Or the ability to think independently and express one’s self with confidence? Easily accessible, standardized tests for that are tough to find. This interviewee went on to say that it is more important to find a way to assess the things we truly value. In other words, determine the desired outcome first and don’t waver in your focus from that end. When that outcome is clear, then finding a way to measure it will come.

I often hear boards, when creating or reviewing their Ends policies, say something like, “Well, that’s a great End, but we have to make sure we create Ends that can be measured.” I’m concerned that this could lead to a watering down of the board’s true intentions, of the potential the organization has to change the future for specific individuals.

At your board table, spend the energy creating your desired future by focusing on the true outcome that you, on behalf of your ownership, value. Once you have expressed that in writing, turn it over to your CEO and allow him or her to find a way to measure that outcome. Don’t fall prey to creating Ends that match the measures that you already have or are easily accessible.

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