When you give the wrong meaning to a change in a metric, you can end up making the wrong decisions.
⚠️ The reported number of after-hours emergencies decreases. Is the system really getting better? Or are more of the problems going undetected? Or has a class of problem dropped in severity? Or are people too fatigued to keep reporting them?
⚠️ Revenue grows. Is the business succeeding? How much more did sales and marketing cost to bring in that revenue? What other expenses will be needed to be able to recognize that revenue? Will an increase in those costs make you less profitable despite the new revenue?
⚠️ Your website’s “average time on page” increases. Are people more engaged with your content? Or are they more confused, taking longer to figure out how to take the next step?
⚠️ The sales pipeline has more leads. Is more profit on the way? Or is a change in marketing bringing unqualified leads that will never turn into sales.
⚠️ Your application’s memory usage keeps climbing. Does it have a memory leak? Or is it effectively caching results to speed up future operations?
Effective leaders recognize that metrics must be interpreted in the context of the whole system. Assigning meaning too quickly can lead to problems throughout the entire organization.
What are some metrics you’ve seen misinterpreted?