3 rules to set better measurement benchmarks

Your benchmarks should be consistent, relevant to your leaders and based on enough data to be meaningful. If they aren’t, consider this advice.

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When an organization sets up a measurement program, the conversation will inevitably come around to: “Do you know any industry benchmarks we can use to set our goals?”

My answer is invariably, “None that are valid.”

I know, because I used to publish them.

You can’t compare tanning lotion to tanks

A decade or more ago, we published the Delahaye Benchmark study. We gathered all our clients’ results into a database to come up with an overall average for positive, negative and neutral, as well as message content.

I won’t keep you in suspense: It was invariably 3-5 percent negative and 15-20 percent positive, and 20 percent of all articles contained one or more key messages.

The problem with this approach is that it’s like blending vintage Bordeaux, tasty Chilean Merlot, perhaps a little spicy Gewürztraminer and some robust Napa Valley Zinfandel. Despite your fine ingredients, you get a concoction even the least discriminating wine drinker would call undrinkable.

You can’t combine a lot of good stuff into one bucket and expect it to still be good. That’s exactly what you get when you try to benchmark with an average of results across many different industries, cultures and geographies.

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