Getting serious about metrics: Be Incredible. Focus on Quality not just Easy.

Getting serious about metrics:  Be Incredible. Focus on Quality not just Easy.

By Chip Felkel

Recently I was sitting in a theater with my family watching the new release, “The Incredibles 2”.  A line from the movie’s villain, Evelyn Deavor, is this, “Ease. They will trade quality for ease every time.” Of course, this villain (note: the bad guy here) is correct in her assessment about society generally and while she wasn’t referring to public affairs and advocacy, she certainly could be.  But the truth is, good, successful, impactful advocacy can be much easier than we seem to think.  Yes, it takes some work. It’s not as simple as hitting send, and it takes some common sense and a willingness to stop taking victory laps for activities that do very little but create lots and lots of noise.

Too many managers are asking for numbers they can share in the board room without regard for their legitimate significance. They want numbers, so, by God, we’ll give them numbers?  Too many advocacy professionals are settling when they could be rock stars. They accept half-ass results when they could be delivering amazing quality for their organizations and improve their own personal brand internally.   Surely, we are not so lazy that we don’t care how those results affect our organization or our own professionalism. We can fix this, and improve our own lot, if we turn the focus onto measuring things that really matter.

We hear a lot about the requirement for metrics in our conversations with advocacy professionals these days. If we are all being honest here, what’s getting measured and reported has more to do with self-validation, than with the measurement of substantial, truly effective activity. We get it. Sometimes you do have to produce volume. But that isn’t getting it done. If you just want to produce numbers to cover your rear end, stop reading now. However, if you want to measure what can and does lead to effective advocacy, that leads to successful passage or defeat of important legislation by taking stock and developing metrics that matter, keep going.

Organizations need to focus less on what we call “reach” metrics and more on “impact” metrics.  Reach Metrics can show the number of likes, retweets, letters sent, calls made but they don’t capture authentic influence.  They don’t capture the potential for, or actual impact of, truly substantive interaction. Impact Metrics are about the capabilities of your organization and your stakeholders to have direct, and yes, impactful, interaction with important legislative targets. Impact Metrics are focused on who your stakeholders really know, and how well. What’s the depth and breadth of the relationship(s). Is it really an actionable relationship or just a casual acquaintance?  How many personal interactions (personal calls, personal texts or personal conversations) are you in a position to initiate. How many actionable relationships do you have with a Member, a Committee, a Caucus? Instead of clicks, tweets and likes, let’s start measuring our influence potential and interaction occurrence. What’s the real level of “influence opportunity” in your organization? We call that Advocability and by that we are measuring the willingness and ability of your stakeholder to proactively, comfortably engage, not just click a link. Sure, they feel better and you can log it, but we both know they’ve not accomplished much. Lastly, impact metrics look at the organization’s and the stakeholder’s sphere of influence. Where are they influential (groups, orgs, associations) that will bring attention to your position, expand your message to other influencers and benefit your cause?

These are things that really matter. They aren’t about mere reach. They are about legitimate, real impact. It’s time we measured these, not how much noise we are creating.

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