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How to really know if your project is a success

There are so many articles out there about what to do and how to do it. Measurement is a key performance indicator (KPI), but is it enough?

Every time I develop an initiative of change I propose establishing a baseline. Why? What is a Baseline? Why do we care about numbers before the initiative? One organization I work with doesn't want to do the work to establish baselines but how do they expect to see the measurable change? We must take the time and effort to measure where we are before we enact change, in terms of what we plan to accomplish.

Many think all they need to measure is what the initiative produces but we need to know what change happens when the initiative is applied as well. We need to consider all the other things that might be affected by the initiative and the changes that are occurring, not just the direct change from the initiative.

I was a presenter at an Engagement conference in Reno, Nevada when I was approached by a human resources specialist after my presentation and asked "so how do you measure changes". The first words out of my mouth were "you start with a baseline". So many people in HR and business today either don't know what a baseline is or aren't convinced of its importance. I guess its importance depends on how important it is to show your accomplishments.

Put some key measurements in place prior to starting your initiative and think outside the box to determine what other indirect measurements might possibly be affected by the changes. The big picture should include "here's what all the numbers looked like before the initiative, here's what they look like to date, and here's how other departments are being affected (or not) in comparison during this initiative."

Your baseline is a measurement of where things are now before we make any changes. We might find that by using current numbers, but in many cases, those numbers may not exist in the context of the change you are looking to measure. You may need to provide a survey or collect some existing data to establish some kind of baseline for where you are now as opposed to where you will be at the first interval of your change measurement from your initiative.

You can't manage what you don't know. You can't use a roadmap to your destination unless you know your starting point.


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