Posted by Laura | September 20, 2010
How Do You Measure Success?
So I was thinking about measurement. In the latter phase of my corporate life, we used a lot of Six Sigma philosophy. It’s a business management strategy that reduces (“sums”) people, things, and processes to numbers and stats in order to measure productivity, effectiveness, and — ultimately — perfection. See, as long as you’re dealing with facts and figures, not emotions and agendas, you can measure and MANAGE the outcome. Mathematically. You can prove whether something is a success or a failure based on prior definitions.
A “sigma” is a measurement of a defect, like an upside down stamp or a fleck in an iPhone screen. Defects are to be expected in a manufacturing process – hear this all perfectionist artists! – but “six sigma” manufacturing process is where 99.99966% of the products manufactured are statistically expected to be free of defects. Almost perfect.
As a corporate project manager, I used to relentlessly gather measurable detail: time, quantity, and (hardest to measure) quality, or scope. I really really LOVE data! I see patterns and meaning in every little numerical blip. Dealing with data was often preferable to dealing with people. Plus, whatever you can measure, you can manage because data is fact. Right?
I have no conclusions to this little essay, other than a personal offering that my self-esteem is pretty much rock bottom if not functionally underground these days. So I’m curious: what “facts” do y’all look at to measure a good day or life over a bad one?
Is it Pageviews? Comments?
Number of Facebook friends?
Tweets? Twitter followers?
Income after taxes and mortgage?
Value of house?
Number of birthdays?
Number of children?
Number of anniversaries?
Number of divorces?
Number of drinks or (insert quantifiable substance here) it takes to get through a day – or number of (corresponding substance quantity) it *doesn’t* take?
Afternoons and coffee spoons?
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes?
No evangelizing. I’m honestly curious, and honest feedback is much appreciated.