A lesson implicit in the phrase “what gets measured gets managed” is to think about what you are measuring and why.
If your objective is to become a faster runner, then measuring the kilometres you run each week is a related but not entirely relevant metric.
Running more often doesn’t always lead to running faster. (There are plenty of slow poke weekend warriors, slugging it around their block each week at the same steady pace without an increase in speed).
So if you focus on ‘weekly km’ as a measure of your performance, you might think you are improving, when actually you are not.
Instead, a relevant metric might be a 5km time trial run. And an improvement in this measurement would directly reflect an improvement in your running speed.
This idea – that we need to choose metrics carefully that are relevant to our objectives – has implications outside running, too.
For my own 2017 goal of reading a book a week, I need to be clear about what is the underlying objective I am trying to achieve.
I think I have several objectives here: to become a better writer; to learn new perspectives and mindsets; to learn more about topics of interest; to expand my imagination and creativity.
So, the measure I am currently using – books read per week – might be inadequate on its own, as it does not capture the quality of the book and whether the book is worth reading, whether I retained any information from reading the book, and so on.
This is something worth reflecting more on, and thinking what other situations are others or myself using the wrong metric.