Rebecca (Dysart Jones Associates) and Moe (Markham ON Public Library) conducted a review and discussion of metrics and how to use them in a library.
At the Markham Public Library, they had 50 people come to a program featuring local authors. The Board thought the program was a total failure because the number of attendees was so low, but the authors thought it was fantastic because they connected with new readers. This shows that the statistics you keep and report can dramatically affect the conclusions reached. Define success up front so you know when you are successful.
In our daily lives, we know what we want measurements to convey and we have targets. What outcome and impact do you want the measurements to have? We have been deplorable at having actual targets for our measures. Define the audience you want to impact.
Understand the stakeholders who are different from your customers and your internal processes. Stakeholders are those who can put a stake of success under the organization or a stake through the heart of the organization. They include the decision makers.
The measurement framework for success is all about the details and the process of getting you to where you want to be. Understand the context so you know what to measure and what your stakeholders consider important. They can be users, funders, or just supporters. Align your strategies and objectives with theirs so that when you are successful, they are successful. Identify the services and programs. What can you offer that’s important to the stakeholders?
Define the measures but don’t get caught up with too many measures. How much time are you spending on gathering data that you don’t really need? Manage measurement data. Don’t collect numbers and then do nothing with them. You need both operational measures and value measures. Don’t dilute the message with internal operation measurements. Translate data into outcomes and impacts. How many people got value from your programs? focus on value and impact, not the numbers.
Then communicate the results. Let your stakeholders know by going back to the value. Don’t let them get unfocused and ask for other numbers. When changes happen, different people will have different objectives, so this is a cyclical process. Know your audience. Never forget its importance. Get to know them before budgets are defined.
Below are some examples of typical board members. Many of these are not residents, but they’re voters! They all have very different lenses. Convey what is important to them. If you can’t add value to their life, the library’s absence will make no difference. Align yourself with the majority of them and show them the value they want to see, otherwise, they will blindside you, and you won’t be successful.
The measures you define are not defined at the service design stage but at the business and planning stage. Outputs are the numbers, but outcomes are the program that results. The impact is the important part, but you won’t know it right away. Capture some success stories, start sharing ideas, and have a conversation.
Share your strategies with your staff. Get them to understand why you are gathering the metrics. Yammer is like a corporate Facebook (it’s based on e-mail domains) and is good for communicating with staff, telling the stories, and sharing strategies. Then your staff will help you to be successful.
IL 2013 Blogger and Blog Coordinator
Editor, Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage