Measuring individual contributions to team performance LO27160

From: Bill Harris (
Date: 08/24/01

Replying to LO27136 --

"Eugene Taurman" <> wrote:

> I can not give you references as requested. I do however have some comment
> for your managers
> The traditional manager's self perception is, " My job is to watch
> and make sure you work enough and to keep you from making mistakes." It
> is this mentality that drives you mangers to want to measure individual
> performance.
> The Lean manger's self perception is helper and keeper of the
> process. Consequently foremost in their minds, "How can I help you make
> your work, work better, How do we do the work now?"
> If your mangers believe they have to measure individual performance rather
> than process performance then you have a hard job to change the culture
> enough to make teams work.

Excellent point, although I might go even a bit further than you wrote in
the last paragraph. There is a role for measuring process performance, to
be sure, and, starting with the SQC work years ago we've learned how to
make that help our organizations. I really like your "Lean manager's"
approach (although I'm not sure what it has to do with girth :-) ): the
real goal is getting better, not measurement. It's hard, though.
Managers above you may want to hear defensible arguments whether you are
doing well. Without some sort of numbers, it's hard for them to know
whether your good words are merely blowing smoke or valid insight unless
they get actively involved in each part of the organization. (Oh. Was
that hitting the nail on the head? Oh. Mebbee there is something to be
said for MBWA.)

So, getting better performance _plus_ better measurement, all in the
proper balance to make the system work--sounds like a feedback system:
very good, very important, and very doable (but perhaps not so easy,
either), and not all _that_ messy until, as Scott Simmerman
<> writes:

> organization's culture and the nature of the measures. When these things
> get tied into compensation or promotional stuff, it gets really messy.
> Similar to what happens when we implement Suggestion Systems.
> It is a can or worms that needs a bigger can, methinks.

Then one hypothesizes the existence of a primary feedback loop that goes
from financial reward to improved performance, so strong that it swamps
(and makes far less necessary) the effect of the "Lean manager" loop Gene
described. Somehow I've not seen it work that way nearly as well as
common management practice seems to indicate it should, and I've seen
good, supportive, enlightened management indeed achieve quite good

I wonder if Lou Pinella reminds his Seattle Mariners (the local baseball
team that does seem to be on a roll in the US major league baseball season
this year: every night about all the
money they can make if they do make it to the World Series, or if he
speaks with them about other things.


Bill Harris                                  3217 102nd Place SE
Facilitated Systems                          Everett, WA 98208 USA               phone: +1 425 337-5541

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