Measured for awareness

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I was reading this article:
last night which started off with this quote

"What gets measured, gets managed." - Peter Drucker

It reminded me of a lesson that I was taught early on in my working career.

I was managing the small IT department (myself and one part-time student). One of my responsibilities was to provide "help desk" support to the employees. I do not recall the specifics now, but early on, this responsibility began to take most of my time, so other projects were not getting the attention that they deserved.

My manager made a suggestion that struck me as very strange. He told me to start building a log for the help desk calls that I was working. He wanted to know when the call came in, who placed the call, what their role was, what type of call it was, how much time I spent working on the call, and when the call was closed.

I thought he was crazy! I was already spending more time on the help desk issues than I needed to and he wanted me to spend even more time. He also wanted me to summarize the log for him in on a weekly basis.Now, he was a busy man, and I knew he would not have time to review this summary, but nevertheless, I did as he requested.

After about a month of keeping this log, I began to see patterns. There were things that I could resolve by changing how software was configured on the initial load of the employees computers, by providing step-by-step guides for some routine things, etc.

When I began telling my manager about these observations, he simply smiled.

After a few months, he told me that it would not be necessary for me to continue to summarize the logs weekly for him. As I suspected, he did not have the time to review the summaries that I was producing, nor did he have any real interest in the data (he was the CFO, so it was an odd reporting relationship). His reason for having me collect and summarize the data was to become more aware of my activities. Before I began reporting and summarizing, I was treating each call as an individual thing and not looking at the larger picture - I could not see the forest for the trees.

He also warned me to not pay too much attention to the statistics that I was compiling; it would be too easy to focus on how long it took me to close a ticket rather than making sure that I was resolving the underlying problem.

The real value was in collecting this data, and in focusing my attention on it.

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