Creating a metric – value add or mission?


Should metrics on a visual management board or report be something that measures progress on only value-add activities? Or is it OK to track metrics on items that may be essential non-value added, but directly support the mission of the organization?

What do our metrics measure?

I started wrestling with this question while trying to frame a new metric that at its core supports the mission of our department.  I started second guessing my metric thinking it was good for the group but not necessarily something a customer would call value-add. Is the question even valid? For Lean practitioners, can the mission of an organization/department be separate from value-add activities?

A quick analysis:

  • Value is the starting point of Lean thinking and is defined by the customer. An activity is value-added if a customer is willing to pay for it.
  • The mission of the organization states why it exists, what it does and for whom. The mission is about the here and now (whereas the vision is about the desired future).

If this is true, the mission of an organization or group should map to value-added activities because it describes an output that is done for someone. Missions statements may not describe a specific product or service, as they use more general language. But the mission statement should connect what the organization/group is producing to what a customer desires.

In our example the mission of our IT group is “to connect people through systems and solutions.” The metric we are discussing tracks the responsiveness (in time) for updates to service tickets. The metric supports our mission because ticket closures or status updates keep the customer better informed so they can go about their jobs more efficiently. We are connecting our customers to their work and their own customers and the information is used by them to make decisions.

The answer to my original question is “yes”. Metrics on the visual management board should support the mission of the organization as well as value-added activities. What better way to see the purpose of an organization matched with the value the customer expects.

Onward and upward!

Photo Credit – Tape measure by bradhoc via creative commons –