There is an old joke in preacher-world. One preacher asks, “How many do you have in attendance these days.”
The other protests, “We don’t count noses. We are not into numbers. We are into being godly.”
“Do you count dollars?”
We measure what counts. I like what Rick Warren says, “We count people because people count.”
We measure what matters to us. If you want to make a habit, or break a habit, find a way to measure what you want done.
If I want to get in the habit of writing every day, I do well to measure the word count at the end of the day.
I am a wedding photographer in another life. This week I have 2200 pics to Photoshop. I motivate myself by measuring my progress.
I use www.mapmyride.com to measure my progress on bike riding. I can measure my miles, calories burned, number of workouts or a host of other things. Way cool.
The Hawthorne Effect
Researchers from Harvard sent Elton Mayo and Chester Barnard to the Hawthorne Works plant of Western Electric to conduct a study to see whether working conditions effected productivity. Their working hypothesis was that improving work conditions would boost productivity. A number of studies have been done since the first one, but they all confirmed the same thing.
The original study involved lighting. Researchers walked around with clipboards measuring productivity. Then they boosted the lighting in the factory. Then, they walked around with clipboards and measured productivity again. As predicted, productivity increased. Case closed, right? Not so fast.
Just to double check their work, they returned the lights to the original level, and walked around with clipboards again, measuring productivity. To their surprise, productivity went up again. How do you explain that?
Before I tell you, let me say again that this research has been repeated countless times, using various variables as the change. They have given people longer breaks, and when they measured the productivity, productivity went up. They returned the breaks to what they had been, and productivity went up again. They shortened the workday, and productivity went up. They lengthened the workday, and productivity went up. Confused?
This is what researchers have learned. Measuring things changes them. It was not the lighting that caused productivity to go up in the original experiment. It was the guys with clipboards. When the guys with the clipboards came around a second time after the lighting had decreased, productivity increased again. There is something about keeping score that motivates.
If you ever have the occasion to play a game of pickup basketball, try this experiment. Watch what happens to the energy level of the group when someone says these three magic words: Let’s keep score. Everything changes when someone keeps score.
If you want to start a habit, or break a habit, find a way to keep score. In the classic work, One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard asks, “How long would you want to bowl if there were no pins?” What would it do to your motivation if you threw the ball but could not see the crash of the pins? What if no one was keeping score?
There is a saying in the business world: if you can measure it, you can manage it. The opposite is also true: if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
If you want to read the Bible every day, figure out a way to keep up with how many days you actually read. In the Navigators 2:7 Series, they provide pieces of paper with seven blocks on each page. You are encouraged to write a little something about what you read each day. You can see at a glance how many days you read by looking at that one piece of paper. If you can measure it, you can manage it.