We are all special snowflakes … but nuance does not roll up

My team and I help organizations put critical measures in place.  We believe that leadership involves both science and art.  That is why we work with business on their priorities, opportunities and pain points to find the right measures for them.  We focus on the enterprise metrics.  Therefore, we accept that nuance doesn’t roll up.

Without fail, we meet with strong resistance from subject matter and technical experts because they fear our measures do not capture the whole truth.  The deep experts feel that the measures and metrics fail to tell the story of what makes a team unique and special.

For this reason, my team listens and we adjust as it makes sense…

Ultimately, we encourage teams to embrace that nuance should not roll up.

We are all special snowflakes.  We are all different, important, and unique.  Our teams and projects have unique flavors, twists, and exceptions.

When we measure snowfall, we care about the total impact to the community — how much fell, how big the drifts were, how many roads have been cleared.  The distinct and special feautres of each snowflake does not matter to the whole. Nuance does not roll up.

Defining measures and metrics that need to roll up, we must focus on what makes the organization as whole, special and unique.  Rolled-up metrics align with business priorities and key areas of focus.  For this reason, rolled-up metrics capture similarities and the points that bring the entire ecosystem together.


Rolled up metrics focus on similarities, not differences

As an expert in a specific domain, it is easy to see the limitation of a rolled up metric.  It is easy to take it personally that the metric does not feature what makes your team and domain special.  Those special differences should help your team thrive and help the larger organization thrive in turn.  Rolled up metrics ensure that your unique attributes serve the larger purpose.

Please do not take offense to rolled up metrics.  The control or measure is not to limit your creativity, but ensure you have the resources you need.  Rolled up metrics make sure your team can continue to serve the overall mission of the organization.

Leaders who are making decisions about priorities and allocation of resources know and appreciate that you and your team are special.  Leaders need to work in aggregate.  When making decisions at a macro level, leaders need to focus on the commonalities and the ties to key business drivers.

How can you embrace rolled up metrics and let your team be creative?

  1. Know the top priorities of your business.
  2. Understand how those business priorities are measured.
  3. Define how your team supports the business priorities.
  4. Qualify how your nuance helps you achieve those business priorities.
  5. Establish your own metrics that let you capture nuance locally — because it matters globally.

For insight on rolled up metrics — check out this article on balanced scorecards