No, I am not suggesting measuring knowledge work from the perspective of "productivity." This link suggests a way of monitoring the health of a knowledge work organization.
James Slavet has an interesting set of Five New Management Metrics You Need To Know on the Forbes technology blog. Rather than look specifically at throughput, he suggests some internal metrics that might be leading indicators. These kinds of ideas are geared towards organizations that have more knowledge workers - people doing work that you can't SEE.
- Flow State Percentage. What percentage of the day are people able to FOCUS and get stuff done? Slavet suggests it is going to be incredibly low, and I can't help but agree. If your business relies on people doing design, or coding or intense documentation, it won't be very successful if they keep getting pulled away from that work.
- The Anxiety-Boredom Continuum. People like some anxiety to keep them on their toes, but not too much. I'm not quite sure how you would measure this, other than getting a sense of people.
- Meeting Promoter Score. Just like the net promoter, how do people perceive meetings in your company? While killing meetings altogether is attractive, maybe making the ones that are necessary more interesting and useful could be just as valuable.
- Compound Weekly Learning Rate. How much are your people learning? Do they keep learning, or are they getting stuck?
- Positive Feedback Ratio. How much are people providing each other with positive feedback vs negative? I would ask if they are taking the opportunity to provide ANY feedback. Slavet suggests that the ratio of positive to negative interaction needs to be close to 5:1 - a number from John Gottman's analysis of interactions amongst married couples. Clearly "feedback" is different from "interactions," but the concept still fits. Negative feedback and interaction can create a death spiral.
What do you think of these? How might you use them? Comment here or on the original article.