What really drives success? Countless people’s works have tried to pin it down and our performance-driven society’s obsession with KPIs suggests we desperately want to pursue it in a systematic way. Yet somehow the formula eludes many and is not fully realised through our focus on simple benchmarks of performance.
We need to take a ‘boy and his first radio’ approach – pull it all apart to see how it all fits back together. Just like the radio, no one part is solely responsible for the radio’s function – they interact with each other to deliver the whole experience of ‘listening to a radio’. Some parts are more dependent on each other and some parts are more important than others – but they all play a key role in realising holistic function.
“In order to keep my pants up I have a belt, but it needs my pants’ belt holes to make it work…SO JUST WHO IS THE REAL HERO HERE?”
Together all the parts make up a whole that is much greater than just the sum of the constituent parts. This is the Gestalt Phenomenon.
The success of an organisation has a mind boggling amount of moving parts that drive this. However, when we start measuring the performance of these individual parts we risk falling into the ‘’correlation is causation trap’’ – a classic case of trying to untangle cause and effect.
The examples below demonstrate the caution we must exercise when correlating KPIs with success and therefore imputing causation (or in watching Nicholas Cage movies which only encourages him!)