How can undefined KPIs impede transformation initiatives?

3.4k views19 Comments

Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees
Business transformations are continuous in nature because the market is constantly evolving. That’s why it is imperative to start with strategic planning first by identifying a set of business outcomes and key performance indicators (KPIs) that demonstrate progress. A never-ending transformation is not sustainable or palatable to the workforce. 

My approach is to start small, with a few projects, iterate and move forward. These small projects align with the goals of the overall transformation purpose. It also shows the team’s progress. This is a familiar concept to teams practicing agile frameworks and it helps translate the abstract concept of transformation into discrete activities or tasks. Measuring accomplishments against your definition of done will also provide opportunities to celebrate this progress.
CIO in Consumer Goods, 11 - 50 employees
KPIz and/or OKR are part of the business/area/company evolution path.
Not having any of them is like driving at night without lights... Where to go? What is the destination? Why should I do or don't do something? 

Every single department /area/ sectoe of the company should have their own, but all must be aligned with the master KPIs/OKRs that leads the company (corporation) 
Vice President Information Technology in Finance (non-banking), 201 - 500 employees
KPIs are helpful in creating accountability in the system. In the digital transformation journey, absence of KPIs means the driving force and direction to goal is missing which will eventually hamper the endeavor. 
Head of IT Operations in Healthcare and Biotech, 201 - 500 employees
If you don't first document your measures for transformation success, you shouldn't start the journey. KPI's are key (pun) to align and set expectations on what is being measured and what measurement target is required to achieve the outcomes expected.
Global CIO in Telecommunication, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
KPIs are enabler for meausring the outcome in the system. The digital transformation journey is evolution of technology and business to survive in present envionment. KPIs means helps in driving the  missing but should not be the criteria for Transformation sucess.
VP in Software, 10,001+ employees
Indeed, it can in the business transformation scenarios I work> Undefined or Poorly defined KPIs is worse than No KPIs, as everyone assumes there needs to come to KPI, builds vague criteria around it, and pursues them. Bringing an organizational alignment from that chaos is a huge effort. Hence at a high level, the KPI categories and the range values for expectation need to be defined.

At the same time, we work in VUCA world. Agility is important, and KPIs can change. Hence it's also important not to nail the KPIs to the minutest details, and reward/penalize for each. The emphasis is on how adaptive business is in following the KPIs around the defined range of values and how fast can they change if required.
CIO / CDO in Construction, 10,001+ employees
a relevant, valuable and successful business or transformation strategy, a proper project/program, etc have to endorse well defined objectives and KPIs as otherwise we may lack tools to steer, to align, to motivate to reward etc.
in a transformation journey, well defined and aligned objectives and KPIs are literally indispensable to get people focusing on the right things, in the right sequence, with adequate attention as otherwise, as we’re humans, some of us may rather struggle and circumvent the “change” as inherent in a transformation…

CIO in Software, 11 - 50 employees
It's difficult to optimize for what you can't quantify!
Manager in Construction, 51 - 200 employees
KPI's allow you to align your expectations on what is being measured and the target required to achieve the expected outcome. If you haven't documented these steps for transformation, you shouldn't commence the work.
CIO in Software, 51 - 200 employees
I just finished an HR transformation assignment - large one, touching every one in org, successful as defined but when I talk to my end customers - in this case employees, I still see gloomy face every where. Reason - world has changed a lot in last 2 years. In this post pandemic world, driving an initiative through hard KPI is hard to define, harder to achieve. Further more KPI provide end view and not the journey essential which is key to agile.
However keeping it open is making it too fluid. There is no reason for not implementing KPI in call

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