Tom Seaver On Performance Management

OK, a bit of a stretch here, but I did spend 15 minutes one-on-one with the great hurler last week at the Xerox analyst conference at Citi Field in New York. And thankfully, the Mets were not playing. Tom signed my baseball as I toyed with asking him about Roger Clemens, steroids, and Hall-of-Fame-type questions, and the best I could come up with was simply asking how hard he threw the ball in his prime. He scowled and looked at me as if talking to a 5-year-old and said, "There are three important things about pitching — and yes velocity is one, but location, and the ball's movement are the others, and speed is the least important." So I thought about this, and it occurred to me that we focus on speed — in this case — only because we have radar guns that can measure it well. Movement and location are more difficult, so we just ignore them. And perhaps this is a problem with performance management in business today. We focus not on the more important metrics, but the ones we can conveniently grasp. Contact center call duration, as an example, is much less important than the time or the number of successful customer encounters. So thanks, Tom, for this insight, and perhaps we should spend a bit more time taking an outside in approach to metrics.