Tag Archives: insights

Data dynamics in medical affairs and sign-up for the panel discussion on digital islands!

The world is a riot of colour, cherry blossoms, crocus, bluebells and daffodils, green shoots, blue skies, and  more hours of sunlight every day. There is a lot of promise in the air. Spring is here, greeted every year with a sense of joy and wonder.

Another event that occurs annually is in preparation: The DIA Medical Information conference, which this year will be held in September in London. Remember, the meeting stays relevant and interesting thanks to your participation. If you have an idea for a submission, please don’t hold back. If you need a pep talk, reach out!

And now some news, something that has not been here before: I will be running and hosting my very first panel discussion with my company. I have done many of these but none without the support of conference staff. Please find the link below!

Today’s blog topics:

  • Medical affairs: unlocking insights and exploring data dynamics 
  • Medical affairs: the benefits of collaboration
  • NEWS: Upcoming panel discussion on digital islands and AI
  • Leadership: Remember to lead with compassion

Medical affairs: unlocking insights and exploring data dynamics 

In 2019, I conducted a survey on the interconnectedness of all things, systems, knowledge, and people in medical affairs. I asked individuals how they manage data, communicate across geographies, and ensure that different teams in the medical affairs sphere, think medical managers, medical directors, medical science liaisons, medical information and beyond, are aware of key information about products, key clients, and services. The survey was global and shared with biotech, pharma, and device manufacturers. Eighty-five respondents shared their knowledge.
 
I asked questions about collaboration across teams and geographies. I inquired about processes, systems, and platforms, as well as whether regular meetings to share data are held and  all processes are described in SOPs and WIS. While almost 50% of respondents reported having meetings to share information across functions, these meetings were mostly on a case-by-case basis, and the approach to information sharing was not described in SOPs and WIS.
 
When asked to identify the biggest challenge to collaboration and data-sharing across teams, respondents selected the following (multiple responses were possible):

  • Lack of knowledge about potential data sharing areas (85% of respondents)
  • Lack of shared processes (90% of respondents)
  • Lack of common platforms (80% of respondents)

 
While AI is often discussed for analysing data within systems, it’s crucial to acknowledge that without proper processes in place to identify and manage data, capitalising on its potential becomes challenging. Furthermore, the absence of common platforms poses a technical obstacle, compounded by variations in taxonomies and ontologies.
In conclusion, many hours are lost in generating new information or reinventing the wheel. With constant reorganisations in the pharmaceutical industry, managing this situation is more important than ever across the board, teams, and geographies.
 
If this topic is of interest to you, stay tuned for a follow-up survey. I am curious to see how the field has evolved.
 
Also, consider signing up for my upcoming panel discussion on digital islands here.
 
Key take-away:
 You don’t know what you don’t know.

Medical affairs: the benefits of collaboration

In the survey mentioned above, beyond asking team leads how they collaborate, what they collaborate on and what processes are in place, I asked them to outline how collaborating across teams, e.g., Medical Directors/Medical Managers, Medical Information, and Medical Science Liaisons, had improved how they work. The precise question was: “What have been the benefits since you started collaborating with other teams?” The answers included: faster identification of issues/opportunities in the markets (65% of respondents), harmonised medical affairs strategy at a local level (63% of respondents), insights from other markets to help us anticipate market needs (58% of respondents), and also, especially relevant in these times of constrained resources, sharing resources has freed up capacity to do other work (41% of respondents).

One respondent said: “From a global perspective, the benefits are better alignment, more efficiency, more room for innovation,” and another stated, “Collaboration helps us anticipate our customers’ information needs.” It is easy to imagine the downstream benefits of these outcomes of better collaboration, for example, better resource management, better customer satisfaction as customers’ needs are anticipated, and enhanced in-field effectiveness, all of which have a positive impact on the business.

Key take-away: cross-team collaboration can add huge value in medical affair through  efficient resource utilisation, reduction of reduplication of efforts and the ability to address topics as they arise ultimately leading to better business outcomes. 

NEWS: Upcoming panel discussion discussion on digital islands and AI

So how about managing data on Jersey then?” a lawyer in the financial sector asked me at a panel discussion I hosted on digital islands last year. Jersey is an island located in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. I suspect he was disappointed to discover that the islands we focused on were entirely virtual.

I am delighted to share today that I am finally hosting my first virtual panel discussion on digital islands, also virtual, with my company elytra – very real!

I have been speaking at conferences for years, and managed many panel discussions, in this context, but I have always had a hankering to host my own. Now, finally, thanks to Krystal Ellison, who supported me in all things technical, my first panel discussion is here!

I will be joined by Wolfgang Schwerdt and Peter Shone, both experienced data scientists and sailors, so perfectly placed for the subject matter.

Sign up for the panel discussion on April 24th at 2 pm GMT, 3 pm CET, and 9 am EST: Are you stranded on a digital island in a sea of data?”

Come prepared to have all your questions answered.

Key takeaways: My first panel discussion is upcoming, it would be fantastic to see you there.

Leadership: Remember to lead with compassion

During the pandemic, there were many discussions regarding how teams can function without face-to-face interactions and in a state of fear and lock-down. A friend said “I tell my team that not being ok, is ok”.

There were discussions about self- care, how to achieve balance and rituals people put in place to work remotely. The truth of the matter is that many teams work remotely, pandemic or not. However, now the world is back to normal, I anticipate that some of the great ideas people had about managing pressure, or insights about remote working have been lost and forgotten amidst daily work and busy lives.

During the pandemic I put this question to Medical Affairs Leaders  “What has this extreme experience taught you that you are grateful for? How will this knowledge serve you in the future as a leader, or in your personal life?

The five responses I share below are as relevant for today’s world as they were in 2020. regardless of how you are currently engaging with your teams:

  • “Support, empathy and understanding are essential as a manager and be real”
  • “Personal and professional life are intertwined. Each person will react differently as these pieces alter”
  • “To get the best out of people individual circumstances and personalities must be taken account of” 
  • “As someone who would have been a big proponent of a WFH model, I now understand the benefits of working together. I can now also see the importance of trusting your team and giving them flexibility as appropriate to work around their lives”
  • “Some of us may have placed work/company as our driving priority in life. This experience reinforces that professionalism is vital to career success, but relationships outside workplace provide a critical source of connection”

Key take-away: Communication, empathy and trust are crucial when leading teams, regardless of the set-up.  Beyond this, understanding your needs,  striving for balance and self-care are also essential for you to be a strong leader. 

I hope my post provides you with useful insights. If  you need support with a project, or are interested in coaching, why not give me a call to see how I can help. Find out what clients say about working with me here link.


My very best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Medical Information: don’t get lost in transformation

After a week in Brussels, I am now happily back home.

Last week’s DIA Medical Information and Communications meeting was fabulous, we had more attendees than ever before, the event was a success from beginning to end, great shares, some wonderful new contacts and inspiring presentations.

It will take me some time to process it all but I will share my key takeaways from the meeting with you in future blog posts.

Today’s topics:

-Metrics and insights – a vending machine example
-Medical Information transformation – how not to get lost
-Business: Are you using tech to bridge or block your customers’ path?
-Leadership: effective transformations

Metrics and insights – a vending machine example

At the airport two vending machines stood, side by side. They were stocked with similar items, only one was full, and one was empty. Both machines are managed by the same company.

If the performance of the machines is monitored independently, with different teams involved, they might not connect the information. One team may overlook any issues with the fully stocked machine, or incorrectly conclude that stock is not moving, because of the location of the machine, or unappealing products, while another team, focused on the empty machine, could mistakenly attribute it to their superior product selection.

Both teams would be looking at simple metrics, trying to draw relevant business conclusions from that data set. This is a frequent occurrence in companies when data sets of interactions with the same customer group are not integrated and are assessed in isolation.

Wanting some water, I approached the machines. The full machine had the product I wanted, but it didn’t take credit cards. Like many people nowadays I rarely carry cash, so I couldn’t buy anything. Unfortunately, the empty machine didn’t have what I needed, so no sale was made, despite there being a willing customer with a credit card on hand.

The reason the vending machine was full was simple: customers couldn’t access the products.

Key takeaways: If you look at your data in isolation you can neither understand your business environment nor adapt your strategy to enhance your business. Metrics represent raw data, while insights emerge when you combine this data with your understanding of additional factors from diverse sources, revealing what truly matters.

Medical Information Transformation – how not to get lost

Last week I got lost between Brussels airport and the hotel. It’s embarrassing I know.

I hopped on a train. Because I was distracted by thoughts of my lost luggage and the conference ahead it took me a while to note that the train was speeding through open countryside. This seemed odd, so I asked a couple on the train to confirm my direction of travel. They confirmed that “yes, you are heading towards Brussels”. When we got to Leuven it became apparent that I was not.

As the next station was fast approaching decisions on next steps needed to be taken fast. Luckily another local helped me: he identified the stop I should get off at, the train I needed to switch to and which platform I would take it from. With little time to spare his help was invaluable in helping me course correct.

I used this example when talking about implementing changes in companies. Often the roadmap seems straightforward, the task appears manageable and the topics clear, whether it be the implementation of a new IT system, working with different cultures and languages, content revision strategies, cross-functional collaboration or any one of the other myriad topics that teams face when improving how they work.

However, even if what you want to do seems simple, if you don’t know the terrain it can be more challenging that you might imagine. This is why people hire guides and city maps have circles with “you are here” I have experienced this many times, the first time I take a route I ask for directions, and I still sometimes get lost, but once I know the route I can do it blindfolded at midnight.

Key takeaways: Even if you know where you are and where you are going, and you have a map to follow, if you haven’t taken the path before, you are more likely to get lost. Plan in extra time and budget and hire a guide if you don’t have the experience you need in your team.

Business: Are you using tech to bridge or block your customers’ path?

Last week at Brussels airport travelers clapped as their luggage arrived. It struck me then that we now celebrate things we used to take for granted.

While the world celebrates automation, and conference presentations are all about efficiency gains through digital means and the power of AI to improve things beyond recognition, my customer experience in the real world is often unsatisfactory.

Technological advances can be wonderful, provided they are used intelligently and they are used in conjunction with a customer service foundation that works. Unfortunately, often tech is implemented before processes have been improved in order to support it, or it is used as a barrier instead of as a bridge. A classic example is that new customers can always reach the sales team fast, while existing customers often struggle to reach anyone.

Beyond using tech as a barrier, companies often also use tech to provide services that do not serve the customer. A key consideration here is “just because it is easy and cheap to implement, and it keeps you in constant contact with your customer, it may not serve your customer and your customer can tell.”

Classic examples of services that do not serve include daily reminders that I booked a restaurant or that I will soon be staying in a hotel, or the invitation to download a hotel app so I can check in ahead of time, which, according to a colleague changed her check-in experience at the hotel not at all.

Ultimately what customers want is straightforward and identical across industries: a fast tailored solution to their problem without extra mental load.

I experienced an almost perfect example – Lufthansa put my luggage on a later flight, they sent me a text message telling me where it was and when to expect it, they also sent a link so I could register my delivery location. I was impressed. Only the app didn’t work, so I went to a service kiosk, entered all my data and then was told that delivery may take nine days. The gentleman at the kiosk recommended I pick my luggage up myself.

Key takeaways: Technological solutions cannot compensate for underlying system errors so ensure your business foundation is solid before you implement. Make sure whatever you implement works. Automation cannot replace a human connection, automate with care.

Leadership: effectively leading transformations

Last week during the DIA Medical Information conference I ran a workshop on operational excellence and strategic alignment. I provided participants with a tool to self-assess digital and harmonization maturity within their function and organization.

A participant said, “from the perspective of the global team we are fully harmonized and digitally mature, from the perspective of the non-global teams the situation is very different”.

The situation highlights something that happens frequently when transformation programs are run from the “head” downwards. If your head, or global organization, sees a goal on the horizon and decides that that is the destination, but the “body” and the “feet” and the “gut brain” of the organization, i.e. everyone else, is not informed nor involved in designing and charting the journey, what happens is the head believes that a change has occurred, because it has “thought” its way there, whereas the rest of the organism has remained exactly where it was before, growing disengaged and frustrated in the process.

If this is where you landed, the problem is, you may not even be aware of it. Also, if after a long time of running a transformation programme this is where you are at, it will take a big effort to get back on track.

Key takeaways: Good transformation programs take time, the involvement of all stakeholders and clarity of vision and approach. Be clear on how you will approach your transformation and ask anyone consulting to you or supporting you how they approach and monitor transformation success.

Thank you for reading, I enjoy sharing my thoughts and I love hearing what piqued your interest or any feedback. If you are currently working on a demanding project in the fields of medical, digital, systems, analytics, channels, or facing any team or personal challenges, feel free to reach out to me for a chat. I am always happy to explore how I might be able to support you.

Best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Photo credit: Isabelle C. Widmer – Airport Basel-Mulhouse

Tech for good in healthcare: Insights from a virtual panel discussion

While the summer holidays are sadly fleeting the range of topics I come across that fascinate me and keep me energised and engaged is luckily infinite. I have picked some that I find particularly relevant to share with you today.

Today’s blog topics:

– Tech for good in healthcare: insights from a virtual panel discussion
– If you see a zebra don’t tell yourself it is a horse
– Leadership: Handling the statement “this won’t work here”
– Singapore and Switzerland comparing healthcare systems

Tech for good in healthcare: Insights from a virtual panel discussion

Last week I participated in a virtual panel discussion hosted by 3SC, a company dedicated to using technology for good to change lives. The topic of the discussion was “Tech for Good in Healthcare and Wellness.” I was invited to participate in my role as a member of the board of trustees for charity the Virtual Doctors.

The panel brought together a diverse group of experts, including Ariana Vargas, the founder of STIGMA, a mental health app; William Spencer from the British Red Cross; Alisandra Wederich from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; myself; and Dr Daniel Grace, the Medical Director of the Virtual Doctors charity.

We spoke about the potential of technology to improve healthcare access considering increasing financial and human resource constraints in the sector. We also explored global considerations, including disparities in technology access, varying levels of tech literacy, data privacy, trust in healthcare providers and in technology, and the challenges of implementing tech solutions in different healthcare systems.

An important highlight from the discussion was the gap in tech adoption and maturity between different markets. Dr Daniel Grace shared his experience as a GP within the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), revealing how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of telemedicine in the UK, which until then had not played a role in the UK’s healthcare delivery. I contrasted this with data from the Swiss market, where telemedicine has been part of healthcare provision for almost two decades. In Switzerland health insurance providers leverage telemedicine companies as the first point of contact for patients with health concerns, leading to reduced costs. Patients are incentivised to use telemedicine services before visiting their family doctor through reduced premiums.

The panel discussion was recorded, you can find the recording here . I hope that anyone, who couldn’t take part, can still benefit from the insights we shared during our conversation.

Key take-away:  Tech in healthcare is not a one size fits all proposition, there are significant differences from market to market, regarding adoption readiness etc.

If you see a zebra don’t tell yourself it is a horse

In my last post I wrote about metrics and insights and about the broadly held but mistaken belief that you cannot manage what you cannot measure (link). A reader on LinkedIn agreed with the statement initially and added in the comments section “also, treatment without diagnosis is malpractice”. However, this is not necessarily true, because as a doctor you will often need to treat a patient’s symptoms while performing additional tests to diagnose the underlying condition.

The discussion reminded me of a great medical example that illustrates what happens when you only look at the obvious data, or the data that you can measure or easily collect, instead of exploring additional information or viewing the data in context to understand what is going on:

One of my relatives was diagnosed with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. Based on this the GP wanted to schedule an operation. I recommended we seek a second opinion, asking myself “why would a patient, who is retired, who does not spend hours doing manual labour, and never did, suddenly present with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome?” Further assessments confirmed there was an underlying cause, extremely rare, but nevertheless. My relative received treatment avoiding operations that were not indicated and would not have alleviated the issue.

At medical school one of my favourite professors used to say, “when you hear hoofprints, don’t think zebras.” Conversely, if you see a zebra, don’t try to convince yourself it is a horse.

Key take-away: The data you collect is just the beginning, context is everything.

Leadership: handling the statement “this won’t work here”

In the course of any project, you will likely encounter the statement “Unfortunately, that approach won’t work here” often masked as “I don’t think you understand our specific situation”. While you might be tempted to interpret these phrases as a polite way of saying “No”, I encourage you to resist the temptation.

The reasons given will vary – market size, culture, geography, language and more. Often the phrase is shared with regional and global leads working with individual markets, but I also recall a colleague collaborating with individual teams in two distinct geographical locations within a large country who encountered the sentiment.

When faced with this situation, I always emphasize the importance of maintaining an open mind, listening actively and being open to constructive conversations, all of which will enable you to understand your colleagues’ position better. This in turn will permit you to adopt an effective management approach. A method that I have frequently found useful is to shift the focus from “how” to “why.” By identifying the driving force behind the desired change, teams can unite and work towards a common goal of finding a solution. If at all possible, try to engage in these conversations face to face.

Regardless of whether your project is met with enthusiastic support or critical questioning, I suggest you respond with the curiosity of a researcher reviewing data: there are no good or bad research results, just data. Every experiment provides you with information upon which you can act.

Try not to take resistance personally or view it as a challenge to your authority or qualifications. Admittedly, this can be easier said than done.

Lastly, it’s tempting to push forward despite encountering resistance, but remember “slower is faster.” Rushing teams forward without achieving clarity or agreement on the direction puts you at risk to fail. Take the time to address concerns, foster understanding, and ensure that everyone is aligned before advancing.

In conclusion, practice embracing the phrase “this won’t work here.” Be receptive to diverse perspectives, seek common ground, and approach obstacles with curiosity. By doing so, you will navigate uncharted territories more effectively and lead your team to success.

Key take-way: When faced with the sentence “this won’t work here” always take it as an invitation to a conversation.

Learning from Singapore: a health system case study

Singapore and Switzerland, despite their differences in geography, have much in common including an internationally recognised high standard of living and the availability of superior healthcare with comparable outcomes. However, in an article published in Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Sunday edition 9.10.2022) by R. James Breiding author of the book “Too Small to Fail: Why Some Small Nations Outperform Larger Ones and How They Are Reshaping the World,” Singapore achieves comparable healthcare results to Switzerland at 25% of the cost.

In 2021, Switzerland’s healthcare expenditure amounted to USD 7178.6 per capita, and the country was surpassed only by the United States and Germany according to various sources, you can find links to the data here.

So, how does Singapore achieve this admirable result? The answer, says R. James Breiding, is by incentivising citizens to reduce costs and by rewarding them directly for doing so.

MediSave, introduced in April 1984, is a national medical savings scheme which helps individuals put aside part of their income into a medical-focused savings account to meet their future personal or immediate family’s hospitalization, day surgery and certain outpatient expenses”. Source

While in Switzerland, individuals pay a monthly insurance premium without any incentive to reduce healthcare consumption, as the premium is lost regardless of healthcare usage, Singapore’s system rewards good stewardship of health budgets. Surplus funds from an individual’s Medisave account are transferred to the individual’s pension fund once a sufficient amount has been saved according to the article by R. James Breiding. Thus individuals who consume less healthcare are able to save more for their pension fund. In addition, these savings can be inherited by family members in the event of death. Beyond the MediSave scheme additional insurance is available to cover chronic diseases, such as diabetes, or treatment for illnesses such as cancer, where the costs are particularly high, thus sharing the risk across the entire population in Singapore.

The model in Singapore shows that when patients become an integral part of the healthcare system, deciding where, when and how to invest funds to access healthcare, and benefiting if they invest less, cost control becomes feasible.

The topic is much bigger than what I can reasonably share here, however, I hope it has sparked your curiosity.

Key take-away: Involving patients in health expenditure and allowing them to benefit individually from how they chose to spend on their health can lead to dramatically improved health outcomes at a fraction of the price.

I hope my blog posts provide you with useful insights and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. If you have a challenging project or personal challenge where an external perspective or potentially team or individual coaching might help, please contact me for an informal and confidential chat.

Best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Photo credit: Screenshot of 3 sided cube Panel “Tech for Good in Healthcare and Wellness.” Panelists Dr Daniel Grace, the Medical Director of the Virtual Doctors charity and myself with Adriana Vargas, CEO Stigma, William Spencer from the British Red Cross and Alisandra Wederich from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

two children walking down a country lane showing unity of purpose, togetherness and harmony

Maximizing pharmaceutical operations: the power of organisational insights and proactive communication

I hope you are enjoying the summer and managing to hide away from the heat. I am writing this on a blissfully cold and rainy day. 

Today’s blog topics:

– The value of proactive communication
– Strategic pharmaceutical operations set-up considerations
– From data to insights: unleashing business potential
– If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it

The value of proactive communication

I recently spent time with two siblings, aged eight and twelve.

In one conversation the younger one told me “When I was born, my sister was jealous. She was an only child up until then and as I was a baby, my mum gave me a lot of attention.” His sister listened patiently. He continued “My sister worried that I was more important than her, the new favourite child. However, it was just because I was a baby that my mum had to give me more attention. Nowadays, I still get more support, as I can’t do everything for myself yet, but there is no favourite child in our family.”

I was amazed by how matter-of-fact he was and by how his sister listened in a way that suggested the narrative was one they both agree on. I was impressed that the children’s parents had tackled this difficult topic head-on in a way that made sense to the children.

So why am I sharing this here? Because it illustrates that when we know that an issue will arise and that there is no hiding from it, it is easier to tackle it pro-actively, this is true in business and at home.

Key take-away: Address challenges early, shape the narrative, address concerns, and manage emotions.

Strategic pharmaceutical operations set-up considerations

Some topics come up regularly when I am working with organisations on their set-up. I considered sharing a checklist for you to use while running projects. Lists don’t make for great reading, so instead I have gone with a high level summary. If you think the checklist would be helpful, please drop me a line.

Considerations for pharma operations set-up planning:

1) Is the organisation I work for centralised or decentralised? Does my organisation have a strong culture of how to approach projects? How does this influence the type of set-up that makes sense from a global, regional, and local point of view? What pre-existing systems, structures and teams do we need to respect?

2) What is the context we are working in considering: products, indications, budgets, launch timelines and market size? How does this influence how we will engage with customers, our internal headcount, and rollout timelines? Where will we focus our activities? What activities, channels, materials, events, conferences, trials are necessary/make sense and what are the codes and regulations governing these in different geographies?

3) What systems do we have, what systems do we need? How will we approach data husbandry, analytics and GDPR?

Large companies have experts on all the above topics, most smaller companies do not. A colleague, who works for a small biotech company recommends “Don’t sweat the small stuff, focus your energies, identify gaps and hire accordingly.”

Key take-away: A gap analysis before you start plus a detailed check list and realistic timelines will ensure your setup planning is straightforward.

From Data to Insights: Unleashing Business Potential

Companies collect vast amounts of information on customer interactions, website visits, call centre metrics, and more. While this data is essential for daily operations and for monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs), its real value lies in generating actionable insights for future strategies.

Asking yourself the following four questions can help you unlock the potential in your data:

1) Relevant Information vs. Easy Data Collection:  Does the data we collect align with strategic objectives or is it primarily easily accessible information? If not, what data are we missing?

2) Unveiling Insights: Can we extract additional meaningful insights by analysing the data for patterns, trends, and correlations, to provide a deeper understanding of operations and customer behaviours?

3) Enriching Data Sets: What additional data from other sources across the organisation can we/should we explore to gain a more comprehensive view?

4) Tailored Key Performance Indicators: Would it make sense to assess the KPIs we currently use relative to the desired outcomes to ensure they are fit for purpose and if necessary, to adapt them?

Generating actionable insights from data involves investing in advanced analytics and expert interpretation, empowering businesses to make informed decisions for future growth and innovation.

Key take-away: Data collection is the foundation, but insights derived from data pave the way to success. By asking the right questions, exploring relevant information, and adapting KPIs, companies can unleash the power of data and drive their businesses to new heights.

If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it

This quote is usually attributed to management consultant Peter Drucker, and with 3.5 million hits in google, it is easy to see why. However, according to a post entitled “Measurement Myopia” on the website of Drucker institute Peter Drucker never said it.

With a science background and a medical degree that involved taking many multiple choice tests, where absolute statements were almost always incorrect, my instinctive reaction to absolute statements is a sense of unease.

There are things that are hard to measure and manage (e.g. systemic bias), some that are easy to measure and hard to manage (e.g. life expectancy trends in the UK) , and some that are easy to measure and manage (e.g. phone response times in a call center) that may be less important to your business in the grand scheme of things than others.

In a Guardian article from Feb 10th 2008 entitled “the rule is simple, be careful what you measure” management editor Simon Caulkin, wrote “’What gets measured gets managed – even when it’s pointless to measure and manage it, and even if it harms the purpose of the organisation to do so”

He proposed two problems with “if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it”:

1)The implication that management is only about measuring the visible figures

2)The easy to measure drives out the hard (e.g. phone response time measuring versus managing systemic bias)

In the article Simon Caulkin also observed “what is measured, matters, because measures set up incentives that drive people’s behaviour. And woe to the organisation when that behaviour is at odds with its purpose”.

I experienced this first hand many years ago when I missed out on a part of an incentive bonus because I chose not to perform an activity that no longer made business sense, based on the evolution of the product during the calendar year, instead doing other activities that did make sense. At performance review time my manager agreed with me in principle saying, “I agree, it didn’t make any sense for the business, so your decision was sound, but it was one of your targets, you didn’t let me know ahead of time and this is just how the system works”. Which was fair enough from a management perspective, but it also illustrates the importance of being clear on what behaviours you are fostering with your measurement and incentive system. A paper that is frequently cited in this context is V.F. Ridgway’s “Dysfunctional consequences of performance measurements.”

Key take-aways: 1) Peter Drucker never said, “if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it” 2) Not every popular statement is correct 3) Many things are hard to measure but still need managing 4) Just because you can measure something, doesn’t mean you should 4) What is measured matters, because measures set up incentives that drive people’s behaviour.

I hope my blog posts provide you with useful insights and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. If you have a challenging project or personal challenge where an external perspective or potentially team or individual coaching might help, please contact me for an informal and confidential chat.

Best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Photo credit: Annie Spratt @ Unsplash