KPIs Work With Buy-In, Not Sign-Off

Buy-in is choice. Sign-off is obligation. Best has endless added energy, that sustains itself longer, than does obligation. For buy-in to KPIs and achievement measurement, humans accept to be complex because they accept to, and not because they’re answerable to.

In his book, Open Space Technology, about active self-organising and awful collaborative alternatives to meetings, columnist Harrison Owen describes the law of two feet:

“If, during the advance of the gathering, any being finds him or herself in a bearings area they are neither acquirements nor contributing, they accept to use their two anxiety and go to some added advantageous place.”

The law of two anxiety is active in creating the abyss of buy-in that after-effects in humans alive calm to bound break harder problems or actualize allusive changes.

It’s about choice.

Just anticipate about all the times you had to participate in because you were answerable to, or were told to by anyone with added rank or ability than you. And adverse that with a time if you actual abundant capital to participate, because it meant something to you.

When we choose, we buy in.

My PuMP Partner, Mark Hocknell, describes how affairs in to KPIs and achievement altitude is agnate to poker. If you buy in to a poker bold (literally), alone you can accomplish the accommodation to pay over the cash, or what’s alleged the “buy in”, to accompany the game.

Without buy-in, KPIs do added accident than good.

In my achievement altitude alignment we don’t force humans to be complex in choosing, creating and application KPIs and measures. We invite them. And if they’re not absorbed or not ready, again that’s fine.

When humans are affected to be complex – especially with something as advancing and catchy as achievement measurement, which is harder abundant to do able-bodied in any case – they will do added accident than good:

  • Trivial and simple KPIs will be measured, and that agency their cost-benefit arrangement will be negative
  • Good-news KPIs will be reported, and that agency business achievement problems never get the spotlight and never get fixed
  • Humans get defensive, and this accent biologically shuts down creativity

KPI buy-in alone comes through choice.

Whoever is absorbed and accessible will be the appropriate humans to yield the organisation’s achievement ability to the next level. Their buy-in will ammunition the collaboration, adroitness and charge to choose, actualize and use KPIs that accomplish a able difference.

Mark has apparent this appear abounding times. In a contempo workshop, anyone asked him if the Measure Gallery abstraction we use absolutely works; if the appropriate humans absolutely do about-face up. (The Measure Gallery is how we socialise a set of anew developed KPIs, a part of all the stakeholders.)

Mark artlessly replied, “Always.” And he told the adventure of how the admiral of one Australian account initially said they couldn’t accomplish it to their organisation’s cardinal Measure Gallery. But they angry up anyway. It was because they were arrive and not obliged, and they fabricated the best to come. And their addition to the KPI plan was brilliant.

Faster is slower.

If we try and force anybody to get complex in barometer performance, afore they accept any buy-in, we will be block afterwards poor KPIs and a breakable achievement ability for the years to follow. It’s in fact faster to delay until humans are accessible to buy in. So plan on the buy-in first.

Buy-in is choice. Sign-off is obligation. For KPI buy-in, humans accept to participate through choice, not obligation or force.


Reflect on the means that you’ve apparent humans participate in any assignment to do with KPIs or achievement measurement. What correlations do you apprehension amid their akin of buy-in and the advantage of the KPIs created?

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