Roundtable 2 – How do you measure a year in someone’s life?

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[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”” only_single=false]The ‘posters’ of the Lean Is Good blog have grown to four in number. Each of us brings a different background and set of experiences around Deming, lean, and learning. How could we leverage this diversity of thought and voice for the benefit of our readers? We ‘planned’ and came up with an idea that we could each briefly answer a question once a week. Today we ‘do’ it, and we will ‘check’ it after a couple weeks looking for a high rate of comments.   This is the second edition of the ’roundtable.’   It is related to this post from last week.The answers are independent (nobody could see anybody Else’s answer before they gave their own answer.) We will post a poll so that readers can interact when it is reasonable for the question asked. The order that the answers appear in will be randomized each time. Please join us by adding your comments. We would like to hear from you.

The question:

How do you measure a year in someone’s life? (in the context of performance appraisal)

The answers:

Kim (posts)

I don’t even want to comment on this one but what came to mind for me first was the goals that would be set for a performance appraisal of life. I am guessing since most goals set for you are unobtainable and meant to show you how inadequate you are it would have to include for

Financials – achieve billionaire status by 4th quarter

Family Goal – stars of your own reality TV show

Self Development – Nirvana with a stretch goal of sainthood

Global Goal – end world hunger

By years end you will fully understand why your performance to goals was substandard.

Scott (posts)

How did improve your understanding of your customer’s needs? Gap analysis from customer feedback

How did you manage change? Improvement from change divided by resources required for change.

How did you support your direct reports and peers? Team development / Succession planning on track?


What did you do to improve safety? Not TRIR but safety implementations.

How did you improve quality from the customer’s perspective? Gap improvement from previous years customer feedback

# of Kaizens / CI Events performed


Organizational involvement. Example IEEE

Classes / Seminars. How did it change what you do?


Family Goals

Health Goals

Community Outreach

Bryan (posts)

I don’t think you can measure a year of someones performance. I think the cycle must be turned faster like semi-annually or quarterly. Of course we should coach and teach every day.

However, if we must, I suggest one should measure whether someone followed the right processes and not the end result they achieved. Did they do PDCA? Were they a good mentor and coach to fellow teammates? Much healthier than did they complete all of their assignments on time at the expense of the rest of the organization!

Bruce (posts)

I would try not to.  If my organization requires that I do then I would try to keep things at the level of the process not results — try to give people annual critical objectives like “improve the system using PDCA” or something like that (if the HR people don’t force me to put Management By Objective numbers in it).  Stay engaged in their PDCA efforts throughout the year with PDCA as part of the policy deployment process.  At the end of year I would do whatever I could to NOT differentiate people.  I don’t want to create a bunch of internal competition.   I would try to protect people from traditional performance appraisal to the extent that my cunning, guile, and organizational authority would allow me. This was the last part of Deming that I drank the koolaid on.  It took the best boss I have had in my civilian life to help me understand the singular insidiousness of the third deadly disease.

Those are our answers.  We would really like to here from you in the comments below.

Last Week’s Roundtable Poll Results:

Last week in the roundtable we asked readers if lean certifications were good.  Here are the results:

The "other" answer was: They're not bad - they're just a waste of time, effort, and energy.

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4 Responses

  1. Scott:
    I have many, many concerns about your suggestions; too many to be included in a post. I’ll just mention a few salient ones, but there are much more:
    1. How do things like “gap analysis from customer feedback,” and “gap improvement from previous year’s customer feedback” reflect an individual’s contribution/performance for the stated purpose of a performance appraisal? Even if they did so reflect, what is the numerical evaluation scale for appraising the person’s performance? How do you translate the gap into a numerical rating (measurement) of the person for the purpose of performance appraisal? What are the levels?
    2. You suggest measuring how well change was managed by: “Improvement from change divided by resources required for change.” What is the operational definition of “improvement from change” so that it can be measured and put into a numerator? Same for the denominator “resources required by change”? [I don’t understand how one can rationally measure various types of resources and combine them into one uniform measurement, since the term “resources” presumably includes people, equipment, time, space, materials, etc.] Again, what is the numerical scale (what are the levels) for appraisal?
    3. Similarly, what’s the operational definition for “Team development / Succession planning on track?” Again, what is the measurement scale (levels) for appraising this?
    4. Re number of safety implementations: Once more, what is the scale for how this is evaluated–how many do you need for each level? Does their quality matter? What if I come up with only one, but it potentially will prevent many fatalities? What does “implement” mean? Does it matter who came up with the ideas? Do I get credit for implementing the ideas of others? If I “implement” any unsafe practices, or ignore some unsafe conditions, does this in any way count against or negate any of my number of safety “implementations”?
    5. What does “perform” mean in “# of Kaizens / CI Events performed”? And what if I’ve “performed” no events but continuously improve my work processes every single day? Why should the number of events matter? Will this not “incentivize” people to rush through events in order to increase numbers? Will this not focus people on going through the motions to get those numbers and forcing people to comply rather than to engage? And still once more: What is the numerical scale (levels) for appraisal?
    6. How do you combine all these measurements into a single measure of the last year for the purpose of giving the performance appraisal?

    Based on some of the above, I do wonder in particular if you understand the concept of “operational definition,” which is key to meaningful measurement that can be communicated.

    Bruce: You get it! Just please don’t keep saying you drank the Kool-Aid, since that Jim Jones metaphor implies substituting critical thinking with mindless following of dogma leading to very negative consequences. You’ve clearly done the needed thinking. The only thing you’ve imbibed is knowledge, and “There’s no substitute for knowledge!”

    • Simon – I accept your advice as to the use of that metaphor. You are right. It is not at all what I was trying to convey. Thanks.

  2. […] – social comments on The Checklist Manifesto: A Book ReviewBruce Baker on Roundtable 2 – How do you measure a year in someone’s life?Roundtable 2 – How do you measure a year in someone’s life? « Lean Is Good on […]

  3. […] This is the third edition of the ’roundtable.’   The first three are here, here and here.   We will post a poll so that readers can interact when it is reasonable for the […]

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