How do you know when you’re doing a good job or that the time you are investing is worthwhile?
Metrics and measures can be a useful way to get feedback on what you are doing, and the value you are getting from your time, but it’s important that they take into account the whole impact of what you do.
If you work in a business, it’s likely that many of the metrics you come across ultimately translate into financial metrics because businesses are set up to make money. Working for a charity or social enterprise might lead to different metrics, but because money is an easily quantifiable measure, it always appears somewhere in our measurements.
It can be interesting to notice how often money appears in our personal life too, as a way to compare how “well” we are doing compared to other people – our salary, the value of our car, our house, the holidays we go on… if we’re not careful money becomes our main metric for success and we miss many of the other joys in life.
But when you start to look properly across society you realise that money isn’t distributed by the impact that people have. If it was, the salaries of teachers and healthcare professionals (who are developing the next generation and saving lives) would be significantly higher.
But this isn’t a rant about salaries and society, it’s about encouraging you to think about some of the alternative ways that you could measure your impact.
So what metrics other than finance could we use?
Having spent 10 years working in a university, where my job was connected with measuring the impact of research, I thought I’d steal some ideas from there.
Some of the main categories they use are :
- 🤝 societal (how we relate to each other and the communities we are part of)
- 🎭 cultural (how we understand ourselves and fit into the world)
- 🌱 environmental (how we support the world we live in)
- 🩺 health and wellbeing (how we look after ourselves)
- 💷 and economic (finance and money)
When I think about the impact of an activity I’m doing, I find these categories quite useful as a cross-check to think about the value my investment of effort might bring.
For example, I might think about:
- 🤝 how it helps me connect with other people – friends, family, colleagues, teammates
- 🎭 what new things it might create in the world – new ideas, products, art, music, software
- 🌱 how it is improving the environment around me – in nature, my house, my office
- 🩺 how it helps me look after my health and how I feel about myself
- 💷 how it could translate into income.
Each of these categories can introduce new ideas for measuring the impact we’re having – from the number of people we influence and connect with, to noticing how what we invest in impacts our health.
It doesn’t take a huge amount of time to run through these categories, especially after a bit of practice and it can be a great way to step away and see your contribution in a new way.
Try it out: pick a project you’re doing, whether at work or at home, and notice the different types of impact it could have.
Use these categories to think about how you might measure the progress of your project. What new perspectives does it give you about what you want from your project?
If you’d like some help or inspiration in translating these into metrics, come over and join the discussion in my facebook group for women in tech or if you’d like some personalised one-to-one support, DM me to find out the packages I have available or book an initial conversation with me here.
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