Hello all,

Here is another great article from our friend Adam Stoehr of the National Quality Institute in Canada. The National Quality Institute, http://www.nqi.ca, are BPIR.com’s partner for Canada.  Adam’s article describes his yearly struggle to fit into his Teeny Weenie Summertime Bikini!

Goal 1: Teeny Weenie Summertime Bikini (or appropriate swimwear)   
By: Adam Stoehr, Vice President, Educational Services, National Quality Institute

Adam Stoehr       Example Data

Many of us spend the months of May and June staring in the mirror, looking at rolls and bulges and wishing them away.  Feeling comfortable in a summertime bathing suit (referred to in this article as a bikini/appropriate swimwear) is a common goal.  Some of my family and friends will have more success achieving this goal than others.  Let’s explore how we can maximize our success in achieving important goals.  To do this, we need to answer two questions: “What is a goal?” and “What is a measure?”

If you want to suck the life out of a meeting, start with a discussion on measuring process outputs and achieving desired goals.  I dare you to try it.  Here is your script: “Let’s identify process outputs, and determine appropriate measures, and collect the data, and analyze the results, and base our ongoing decisions on these facts, and set goals to improve.”   By the end of this long sentence everyone in the room will be hearing “blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.”  The unfortunate thing is that the intent of this sentence is a critical piece in measurement, goal setting, and continuous improvement.

What is a goal?

Let’s start with setting a goal.  A smart goal in my bikini/appropriate swimwear example would be: I want to reduce my weight from 210 pounds to 200 pounds by July 28, 2010. Why is it smart? It’s smart because it’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relative, and Time-bound.

SMART Test:  Reduce my weight from 210 pounds to 200 pounds by July 28, 2010.

  • Specific: I’m talking about my weight, not the size of my swim suit, not the amount of exercise required, not the opinions of others, only my weight.
  • Measurable:  I have numbers built into my goal.  With this goal there is no doubt what success looks like and how I’m going to measure it.
  • Attainable: a 10 pound gap in the next two months is within my reach.  If I set this goal too far out of my reach, like 180 pounds for example, I would be more likely to run from it than achieve it (which would ironically be relative to my overall goal anyway).
  • Relative: This test reminds me that this goal should be relevant to overall goals and objectives.  I have an overall goal of improving my health and reaching a “normal” BMI.  This goal is consistent with (relative to) the overall goal.
  • Time Bound: “by July 28th” reminds me that I’m on the clock.  This also happens to be the date of the Process Mapping course I’ll be teaching in Cottage Country where I’ll have plenty of time to wear my bikini/appropriate swimwear.  If I left off the deadline, other priorities with more imminent deadlines might get in the way of my achieving this goal.

What is a measure?

Lots of definitions are available but here is how I look at measures.  A measure is something that helps us make decisions.  I wish all numbers were measures but numbers actually have to grow up to be measures.  How do numbers grow up?  They start off as data, then they grow into information, then they become metrics, and then they end up as measures.  Just as your baby brain wasn’t as good at decision making as your adult brain, so your data isn’t as useful as your measures in decision making.

What is a measure?

Bikini/Appropriate Swimwear – Example Data

The data are the numbers in their rawest form.  For my example, the fact that I weigh 210 pounds is the data.  Data is interesting but it’s not very useful on its own.  Unfortunately we often mistake data for measures.

Information is the data in context. For my example, it would be like me telling you:

  • According to BMI levels men my age and height should weigh 185 pounds (best practice)
  • A recent study showed that on average Canadian men my age and height weighed 198 pounds (researched practice)
  • Two years ago I weighed 260 pounds and last year I weighed 225 pounds (historical comparison)

Information is interesting but it’s not very useful on its own.  Refer to chart below for more details about my bikini/appropriate swimwear readiness historical data.



I define metrics as your analysis of the information.  Now that you have the data and the information you can make an analysis.  For my example you can:
  • Assess progress: Good progress has been made since 2008.
  • Compare and contrast: He’s doing well compared to the past and not so well compared to best practice and researched practice
  • Form opinions: He is doing well.  If he could drop another 15 pounds he would be bikini/appropriate swimwear ready.

We are now in a much richer place with our numbers and we can start to call them measures.

I save the word measure for something that helps me with decisions.  A really strong measure is one that is helping me with a goal related decision.  A measure is therefore a culmination of all of the above.  It’s data in context, that has been analyzed, that can make me a better decision maker.  In my example it would be one of the following:

  • Because Adam has lowered his weight by 50 pounds over the last 2 years we are going to continue our healthy eating regime at the same pace as early 2010.
  • Because Adam has not met the average weight for men his age (i.e. he’s not bikini/appropriate swimwear ready) we are going to increase the exercise regime compared with 2009.
The goal is clear! The measures are clear! All that remains is achieving the goal.  If you want to see whether I achieve this particular goal, join me on July 28th where I will be teaching an “Introduction to Process Mapping” course in Cottage Country.  Don’t worry, for the actual course I’ll be wearing pants and a golf shirt but I can’t promise that I won’t be wearing my teeny weenie summer time bikini/appropriate swimwear the rest of the time.  Have a great summer and I wish you the best on your own bikini/appropriate swimwear goals.

As you can see we have refrained from including any photos of Adam in his swimwear for this year. If you would like a photo please contact him directly!

Best regards
Dr Robin Mann, Commercial Director and Part-Owner, BPIR.com Limited, r.s.mann@massey.ac.nz  

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