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#WFH: Benchmarks and Evidence

Planning for performance usually starts with a map that lays out where an organization is and where it wants to go. Usually these maps are set in a time frame of either a year, three-year or five-year plans. Achieving and measuring these results re-quires defining objectives that are measurable. Measurable objectives are set up with action-oriented  verbs: What do we want to do, be or have? The more general the more difficult to measure so the more specific the better.

Setting up benchmarks is like selecting the starting point on a map. The term benchmark be-came very popular in the late 21st century and refers to a mark that surveyors made to set a beginning point. Benchmarking requires setting a unit of measurement and comparison. Performance is usually measured in terms of time, quality and cost. This has implications from personal benchmarking to industry levels where one business or organization can compare themselves to others in terms of best practices and where similar processes exist. The idea is always the same: identify a starting point then a target and measure progress towards or away from it. This allows individuals and organizations to evaluate progress. It also lets them know how well they set the target.

Is the target a measure that makes sense? Value management leans toward a measure of contribution. If benchmarking is going to be effective, and it really must be in order to measure progress, it needs to be reevaluated and redone at periodic intervals. When it is done and what is used is entirely up to the organization. But continuous performance improvement always requires reevaluating and refocusing.

Evidence-based research can provide invaluable insights into what is working and what is not. It takes time and it costs money. Any research is only as valuable as it is applied. Knowing something is wrong and refusing to do anything about it only magnifies the problem. Many organizations make the mistake of publicly sharing good results and burying those that are less than stellar. By not sharing them, they feel they are making them invisible and they will go away. If they are not shared, they will not affect performance. This is exactly the opposite of what usually transpires.

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