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Jurgen Appelo calls himself a creative networker. But sometimes he's a writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, illustrator, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, freethinker, or… Dutch guy. Since 2008 Jurgen writes a popular blog at, covering the creative economy, agile management, and personal development. He is the author of the book Management 3.0, which describes the role of the manager in agile organizations. And he wrote the little book How to Change the World, which describes a supermodel for change management. Jurgen is CEO of the business network Happy Melly, and co-founder of the Agile Lean Europe network and the Stoos Network. He is also a speaker who is regularly invited to talk at business seminars and conferences around the world. After studying Software Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, and earning his Master’s degree in 1994, Jurgen Appelo has busied himself starting up and leading a variety of Dutch businesses, always in the position of team leader, manager, or executive. Jurgen has experience in leading a horde of 100 software developers, development managers, project managers, business consultants, service managers, and kangaroos, some of which he hired accidentally. Nowadays he works full-time managing the Happy Melly ecosystem, developing innovative courseware, books, and other types of original content. But sometimes Jurgen puts it all aside to spend time on his ever-growing collection of science fiction and fantasy literature, which he stacks in a self-designed book case. It is 4 meters high. Jurgen lives in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) -- and in Brussels (Belgium) -- with his partner Raoul. He has two kids, and an imaginary hamster called George. Jurgen has posted 145 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Diagnostic Over Metrics

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One of the most important reasons for measuring things in an organization is so that we learn. When metrics don’t help you to improve, why bother? Eric Ries, of Lean Startup fame, calls them “vanity metrics”. Measuring things that will make you feel good about yourself can be useful, particularly if your ego is in need of a good hug. Which is nice. But it won’t help you test a hypothesis.

Testing hypotheses, or “validated learning”, is what doctors do all the time. Doctors rarely use terms such as metrics or KPI’s. They prefer other terms, such as tests and diagnoses.
Organizational health

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: In an ever-changing environment, organizations should be healthy. When we want to improve an organization’s health, we need to run tests. We need to have diagnostics. That’s what metrics and KPI’s should be all about. As soon as we learned what we need to know, when we have validated our hypothesis, we can stop testing. We should kill the metric, and measure something else. There’s no point in a recurring ritual of collecting metrics, unless it’s about monitoring for the absence of a deadly disease.

Instead of measuring how many people I have inspired, I should be measuring how I helped people improve their work. I should measure stories, not compliments. Because the goal of tests, measures, and diagnostics, is to learn how to improve the health of a system. Not to improve the ego of a manager.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Jurgen Appelo.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)