Advances in Performance Measurement

By Heather Keathley, Virginia Tech University. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 Performance Measurement Association (PMA) annual conference in Aarhus, Denmark. If you are not familiar with this conference, it brings together professionals from many disciplines and backgrounds to promote the advancement of the Performance Measurement and Management (PMM) research area. Well-known Performance Measurement researcher Andy Neely, from the University of Cambridge, initially founded the PMA. This professional organization has grown to include two conference series: the PMA conference, which is typically held in Europe, and the PMA of Australasia, which is being held next year in New Zealand. The conferences are held biennially and they alternate so that there is a conference every year in each area of the world to encourage participation from a wider audience.

Aarhus University hosted the conference this year with the theme: ‘Designing the High-Performing Organization.” This encompassed a broad range of topics that allowed for an interesting mix of perspectives including topics such as sustainable systems and big data analytics. The conference opened with a ‘day for business’, which was practice focused and featured presentations from an international group of professionals, and then followed with parallel sessions. The keynote speakers were also quite diverse with topics that included:

  • Approaches to sustainability (Mark Finster, Wisconsin School of Business)
  • The role of technology in turbulent environments (Alex Atzberger, Chief of Staff to the CEO of SAP)
  • Guiding performance excellence (Harry Hertz, Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program)
  • The big data revolution (Andy Neely, Director of the Cambridge Service Alliance)

UntitledOverall, I found the conference to be an outstanding experience, learned about new and exciting developments in PMM and was able to meet several well-known PMM researchers. The program included many excellent presentations including one by Lukas Michel who discussed his new book ‘The Performance Triangle’ in a presentation titled ‘Management Tools for the New Workplace.’ His presentation described the new framework that is people-focused and tries to create a stronger connection between the people and the organization. He also described his new book, which came out earlier this year, and can serve as a guide for implementing his approach. I found an interesting blog by David Creelman in which he interviews Michel about the new book and provides a link to the book on Amazon for anyone who is interested in learning more.

I was also able to present a conference paper from my dissertation research titled ‘Review of Factors that Affect Performance Measurement System Implementation.’ In this paper, I discuss the initial results from a comprehensive Systematic Literature Review that focused on identifying the factors that affect successful implementation. The goal of this work is to identify and characterize the factors and their systemic effects on implementation success so that we can design better implementation strategies. It was interesting to see how many recent research works are beginning to reflect the findings from this research area. Even in the Performance Triangle, we can see more emphasis being put on leadership and employee involvement and a focus on the cultural and human aspects of these systems. These characteristics have been identified in the literature as implementation barriers and are now beginning to be incorporated in the design itself to compensate for their effects.

I am interested to see how further adaptations can also address some of the other major success factors such as the maturity of the organizational setting and aspects of change management (e.g., having a guiding action team to facilitate the implementation). It seems that the incorporation of some of the more fundamental barriers took a good amount of time to be included in the design and these factors are only recently being introduced in the literature. How can these new factors be addressed in the design of Performance Measurement systems to enable a more successful system?

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