Once again I was called on recently to speak to Columbia graduate students on knowledge metrics, a topic that combines two of my favorite interests — and seems to be a favorite among my audiences.
Metrics form the key to ROI and the production of value — and therefore essential in all aspects of management. Metrics of our own performance, comparable against ourselves and against others, empower us to improve that performance.
“Financial people” (MBAs and those with equivalent experience) are trained in the understanding and application of metrics to their performance and goals, and are typically as comfortable with talking numbers as they are with speaking words. They think in numbers — and some would say that they even dream in numbers!
Not so “knowledge people.” They may be uncomfortable with, or even resistant to, using numbers rigorously to describe their performance. This can lead to a situation where there is little shared understanding — or even basis for informed discussion — with the financial types who drive most significant enterprise decisions. I call this the knowledge-value gap.
In most organizations, if it comes to a battle between numbers-friendlies and numbers-phobics, the friendlies almost always win. Metrics are literally the language of value and ROI — and therefore the language of most senior management, boards, and external stakeholders.
Knowledge people must learn to “talk numbers” or risk being left out of the most significant strategic conversations in the enterprise — including those involving resource allocations (e.g., budgets, staffing, etc.)
How do you bridge this knowledge-value gap that lurks, eroding value in so many organizations? What is the roadmap? I ended the session by sharing with the audience these steps that will speed them on their journey toward metrics-literacy and knowledge ROI:
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