Be careful what you measure

The old adage “you get what you measure” has been proven time and again. The issue is, do you understand the implications of what you measure.

Over the weekend, I attended a baseball series between Vanderbilt and Georgia, played in Athens. It was a great series between two well respected teams. It was also a very hot afternoon on Saturday–over 90 degrees.

Like most ballparks, Georgia wants to make money on their food–lots of money. Drinks in a 16 oz cup were $4 and bottles of water $3. Half way through the consumption of my bottle of water, it got warm. I went to the concession stand to get a cup of ice. $4. Why? They count cups. Someone in the organizaation patted themselves on the back when they came up with an ingenious idea to track cups sold, not cokes.

So why is that a bad idea? First, fans come to these games out of school loyalty. They don’t object too much to $4 for a coke. But on a hot day when they are trying to take care of their children or parents and they need some ice—well, $4 is just greedy. Particularly after someone has already bought a bottle of water. It puts a small chip in the loyalty. And colleges need loyal fans. On a hot day, there are also other liability issues, such as fan dehydration or overheating. Why take the risk?

Georgia probably doesn’t intend to have those consequences–but they do. They come off as greedy and cavalier about the fans. Is it worth it?

Have you thought through the implications of all of the measures you track? What behaviors are they creating that were not intended?

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