torsdag 16 maj 2013

What is a KPI in everyday life

The use of the term KPI is very frequent and i think sometimes misused. The term stands for Key Performance Indicator and should be a measurement, which when followed, should lead to an expected success. So lets apply this in everyday life.

The example is a very common one and is applicable in any situation when you have a specific destination to get to at a specific time. It could be at work, school, appointment etc. where you are expected to be at the final destination at a specific time certainly have a couple of KPI's.

I will use my wakeup and morning routine as the example. When i wakeup in the morning the first thing i do is to brew my coffee and while waiting for the coffee to be ready i sit in the couch to wake up thoroughly. When the coffee is ready i sometimes drink two or even three cups before i feel satisfied. After the coffee its shower time. Depending on if i need to shave, the time in the bathroom can vary up to 5 minutes. Now it is time for the wardrobe and the whole clothing dilemma, then pack the work stuff in the portfolio and make sure the phone, keys etc. are packed. After that a i quick stroll from home to the train (yes i travel with train to work). After the train a short trip with underground subway to finally end up at work.

So how about those KPI's?

If i stack the stuff in my morning story it would look like this.
- Brew coffee (5 minutes)
- Drink coffee (15-20 minutes)
- Bathroom (10-15 minutes)
- Get dressed (5-10 minutes)
- Pack stuff (5 minutes)
- Stroll (5 minutes)
- Train (30 minutes)
- Subway (10 minutes)
And then I am finally at work.

So how do i apply KPI's in this scenario? Well there are som hard facts here. One very obvious is the train. The frequency of the train is once every hour and if i would fail to catch the train at the planed time i would not succeed with my goal, to be at work at a certain time. The subway on the other hand have a frequency of every 5 minutes so i just take the first one that comes. The train is a very obvious KPI so all my other measurements i do, watch the time during the earlier activities should be based on the probability to catch the train, which in this case is key for success. Each of the earlier activities has a varying time estimate so this means that i have to adapt each activity based on my measurements i do (checking the time) and considering how much time the next activity might require of me. If needed I could walk faster, dress quicker or even skip the shaving if required to catch the train in time but i cant change the time of the train.

So the KPI here is my ability to catch the train at a certain time. To achieve this, i do allot of measurements that all indicate my status compared to my goal. These measurements are not KPI's and they will always change over time depending on the activities that i want to carryout in the morning. So do not mixup measurements and KPI and don't mixup the goal with the KPI. Always try to identify a few or even ONE KPI if possible to indicate you ability to succeed. If you get to many you are probably identifying measurements and not KPI's.

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