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April 2016




Making KPIs work!

"We know nothing about motivation. All we can do is write books about it.”

… Peter Drucker

Over my many years working as a coach, some topics just seem to show up over and over again; and not in a good way! One of these topics is the use of 'Key Performance Indicators' (KPIs) in organisations.

If you have ever worked in a large organisation, you will almost certainly have been subjected to some of the concepts of 'Management by Objectives' or MBO. MBO was first popoularised by Peter Drucker in his 1954 book, 'The Practice of Management'. The most common elements of an MBO program are clear and specific goals, participative decision making, explicit performance periods and performance feedback.

Although the full practice of MBO is rarely seen these days, some of the principles still remain. One of these is the use of performance feedback systems which is where KPIs come in. The idea behind MBO was to keep organisations focused on their objectives such that they can achieve what they set out to achieve. Central to this is the idea that group and individual motivation will be stimulated through connecting financial rewards with group and individual outcomes. Hence the use of KPIs as a means of setting goals, giving performance feedback and providing rewards based on achievement. This is a very rational approach to measuring and managing performance and has been very appealing to many organisations looking to systematise their approach to managing their people.

However, what many see is a good idea in principle often fails in application. Let's look at a couple of aspects of why this happens based on the ontological approach.

The use of KPIs is predicated on the idea that they will motivate individuals to stay focused on their goals. Yet two things stand out here. Firstly, in the fast paced world in which we live, what may have been an appropriate goal three months ago may no longer be relevant. Secondly, for individuals to stay focused on their goals, the KPIs need to be a constant reference point.

The basic premise of the ontological approach is that human beings always live in the moment. In that moment, we tend to respond through habit unless we are aware of being in that moment and decide to do something that may not be habitual.

Based on this premise, if KPIs are to prove effective then individuals have to keep those KPIs frequently in mind and constantly make decisions within their context. Yet, this is rarely the case. It seems that many people only refer to their KPIs when the topic is brought up during reviews. It is not unusual for this to only occur every six months or so. Even if the conversation happens every month, it still might not be enough.

Think of the use of KPIs in the context of setting daily priorities.

Setting daily priorities seems to be a challenge for many people. Most people tend to be quite reactive in their approach to their daily activity. This approach is exacerbated by feeling the need to process the large quantity of email and messages that many people receive every day. As a result, what people do each day is more often what shows up in front of them than what will help them achieve their goals in a larger context.

Here are some thoughts on how to use KPIs more effectively:

  1. Initially ensure the KPIs are developed in a way that are both realistic and within one's capacity to achieve;
  2. Regularly review KPIs to see if they are still relevant to the current situation and alter them if need be;
  3. Look at your KPIs each week and see what actions you will take to progress them;
  4. Use those actions to help you establish your daily priorities;
  5. Use those daily priorities to negotiate and manage what else shows up during the day.

The challenge for many aspects of organisational activity is how to make them relevant in the context of living in the moment. Although I have spoken about KPIs here, similar breakdowns occur in terms of the daily relevance of other aspects of organisational life such as values. It is one of the key reasons for the 'knowing-doing gap'.

Mind Health Matters

Some thoughts from Jacqui Chaplin

“It is easier to exemplify values than teach them.”

... Theodore M. Hesburgh

Empathy Deficit One | What Your Values Tell You?

Following on from last month’s post on ‘the empathy deficit’ I thought I’d take a deeper look at some of the thoughts I had on the potential causes for an empathy deficit.

The first point I noted was that “preconceived values and beliefs about what having a mental illness ‘means’ about a person influences our ability to demonstrate empathy”.

Aristotle first said, “Show me the boy at seven and I’ll show you the man”. Then the Jesuits picked it up because they could also see how the first seven years of life impacted on the values people held for life. Neuroscience has now demonstrated at an empirical level what Aristotle worked out centuries ago. The value sets we experience in our earliest years, when our personalities are at their most plastic and open to the values that we are exposed to will stay with us for life. So what is it we learn as children that influence the helpful or unhelpful values and beliefs we hold about what it means to be ‘mentally ill’?

As young children are we exposed to a myriad of values and beliefs… what sticks and doesn’t is determined by a range of factors such as how long we spend with others, levels of authority, family dynamics and the way people we care about and love relate to other people. These influences as well as our own specific experiences determine what we believe which in turn determines how we respond to and act in the world.

So if as a child we see an adult on the street behaving in a way that is different from the adults we are with and we hear comments like “move away, stay away” coupled with comments about a person being “mad or crazy” - we may develop a belief that it is in our best interests to stay away from that ‘crazy person’ who may be suffering from a mental illness. As a result as we grow up we may tend to shy away or actively remove ourselves from situations where a mentally ill person is in distress.

There is no right or wrong about this from my perspective. There is simply the question of what is helpful for those in need. Yes, someone having a psychotic break (in lay terms they are disconnected from reality as most of us experience it) may be scary, loud or even violent. But when it comes to people living with mental illness they are more likely to be victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. However, when our long held values about people living with mental illness lead us to turn away from those in need we miss an opportunity to learn new ways of relating to others. We can learn to be more empathic. It’s like a muscle that gets worked out – it will grow with practise and repetition.

As is my style when inviting people to think differently about how they interact and respond to the world I offer the following. If a loved one or a friend lives with mental illness would you want others (including yourself) to be willing to help them in times of distress? If you live with mental illness would you want others to be willing to help you in times of distress? I know I would want help!

What do you want your values and beliefs about having a mental illness to mean about yourself or others?

Next month I’ll take a look at how being in denial about your own or a loved one’s mental illness can impact your ability to be empathic in “Empathy Deficit Two: Can’t see the forest for the trees? Can’t see the trees for the forest…”                                           

Why? Because your mind health matters.

For crisis support in Australia call Lifeline 24 hours a day 7 days a week on 13 11 14. In Australia, in case of an emergency, call 000. 

Disclosure Now Available Globally


Check out Disclosure: Casting Out The Shadows plus Strategies for Mind Health Resilience.

For European readers you can purchase the book by clicking here.

For the North Americans you can purchase the book by clicking here.

And here in Australia the book is listed but as yet unavailable in online book stores. So, for a limited time I am keeping distribution going for those in Australia. Email me your postal address and I will email you a PayPal invoice for the Australian RRP of $39.99 (plus $5.50 P&H). I am told the e-books are coming soon!

This option also provides the opportunity for you to request the book to be signed.


'But I Feel Good' Radio Show

Radio ShowRemember to tune in to ‘But I Feel Good’ ...talking pink elephants and black dogs at its new home broadcasting in Melbourne's inner east on 94.1fm 3WBC, on your fav smart phone app or streaming live at www.3wbc.org.au every Monday 12-1pm AET.

The ‘But I Feel Good’ Content Only episodes are available for your perusal and listening pleasure at http://jacquichaplin.com/BIFGarchive.

‘But I Feel Good’ is still heard via syndication in central Victoria on 94.9 MAINfm Mondays 1-2pm AET.

I’d love to hear your ideas for mind health topics you’d like to hear about and any mind health resources you’ve found helpful. Email me at butifeelgood@jacquichaplin.com. Thanks to those of you who have done so already.

If you’d like me to speak about mind health matters and resilience at your conference or to your organisation please contact me at jacqui@jacquichaplin.com or +61 (0)412 741 531

We invite you to read Jacqui's blog here

More on Mind Health Matters next month!

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

... William Shakespeare

The Monthly Diversion

Once again, it's back to the Bill Murray parody account for this month's humour. Just love this guy!

And then God created Saturn… And he liked it… So he put a ring on it.

At the end of the day, life should ask us, "Do you want to save the changes?"

Anyone notice the irony behind “hyphenated” and “non-hyphenated”?

Browsing the internet when bored is like the virtual version of checking the refrigerator.

I don’t care how loud I’m laughing, I’m having fun and you’re not.

Whenever the brain and the heart fight it’s always the liver that suffers.

I’m not sure how many problems I have because math is one of them.

Your french fries are just my french fries on the wrong plate.

Fish who are caught and released are like the aquatic equivalent of people who claim to have been abducted by aliens.

You can’t control everything. Your hair was put on your head as a reminder of that.

I have no one to blame but everyone else.

I’m having some vision trouble today. I can’t see myself doing anything.

"A smile is a curve that sets everything straight."

... Phyllis Diller

Join Us Online

LinkedInDo you want to explore some of these ideas in more depth? Then, we invite you to join our LinkedIn Group and share any insights you may have. As others have done, we also invite to offer your own thoughts and conversations if they relate to the ontological approach. You can find us on LinkedIn by clicking here.

Want to Read More?

Since the formation of Talking About in 2005, we have published our e-zine every month. Before that, Chris wrote regular newsletters and e-zines with Gaia Consulting Group dating back to 1995. If you would like to explore more of Chris' ideas then you can access our e-zine archive and view any newsletter written since 2005 by clicking here or to look at all the articles Chris has written over the years simply click here.


Chris has also written some in-depth essays on a number of topics related to the ontological work. If you would like to explore any of these essays then please click on the relevant image below.


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