Friday
Dec162011

What Metrics Matter

Businesspeople think a lot about metrics, sometimes to a fault. Identifying the quantitative metrics that are central to the firm's success are critical, because metrics help to establish priorities, set corporate goals and benchmark successful performance. Whether a commission-driven salesperson hoping to hit quota or a burger-flipping employee rushing against the countdown clock, businesses aim for quantification of their activities. There are dashboards that help to put all of these business metrics in a central place, and increasingly the dashboards update in real-time so customer behaviors and business happenings can be consistently realigned with the metrics measured.

For life, do we think about metrics? I think few people do consciously. Some people have life lists, others track caloric intake or exercise output. In life, quantification is more fleeting because self-reflection can be hard and self-tracking can be onerous. And, there's no one place to get a snapshot of one's self-designated, key life metrics to help monitor and stay on track.

Currently, life-oriented monitoring is fragmented, tucked away in topical apps. You may use Fitbit for fitness, Eatery for tracking healthy food intake, Accompl.sh for writing out the year's list of to-dos, Producteev for everyday productivity, Facebook for social communication, Klout for social reach, and more, but no product or service (as far as I'm aware) has yet been developed to consolidate the metrics of your life.

I'm fascinated by the Quantified Self movement, and have had the neat opportunity through writing my book to speak with some thought-leaders in the space. It's a growing trend for people to think about, quantify, and track aspects of their lives to improve them - technology is predominantly enabling the change, my contacts said.

What's remarkable is the diversity of what's being tracked; it varies from person to person based on personal priorities and aspirations in that moment in life. For instance, I may be interested in the amount of words I compose per day, whereas you may wonder how many miles you walk weekly. Assuming most people aren't myopic, each of us then creates a portfolio of important metrics with which we'd like to remain aligned. That suite of customized metrics can change over time, but we could bring the level of focus and rigour on metrics from the business world more deliberately into personal life. I think it will take better apps, sleeker integration opportunities, and greater compliance enabled by elegant UI (User Interface) to make tracking unburdensome.

The popularity of a book like The 4-Hour Body, and the immense downloading activity for self-tracking apps indicate an interest in "Self as Science." I'm not sure how I feel about the trend, but it is gaining speed.

What do you think? Let me know, and tell me about any aspects of your life that you do, or would like to, quantify!

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