“The purpose of measurement is to stop doing the stupid stuff,” Katie Delahaye Paine declared to delegates of the United Bible Societies Publishers Conference meeting in Nairobi Kenya this week.
Paine is a bold choice for keynote speaker at a gathering of Bible publishers from across the world. There’s no mention of the Bible in her talk, nor references to her personal faith.
But she’s not on stage to reassure her audience that their cause is worthwhile or to inspire them to a bigger vision. She’s on stage because she knows how to help them get the job done, and done well.
Aka “The Measurement Queen”, Paine has 32 years of experience assisting not-for-profits and corporations determine how to measure their effectiveness. She has founded two measurement companies and is the author of Measure What Matters ( 2011) and Measuring Public Relationships (2007), and co-author of award-winning Measuring the Networked Nonprofit:Using Data to Change the World.
“Any people here ever had to do something they knew was stupid because somebody more powerful told them to?” – Katie Delahaye Paine
Paine’s clients include NATO, the International Monetary Fund, UNICEF, Public Broadcasting Service and the European Investment Bank. Paine has gained insights by workshopping with the big brands that have big budgets – and she’s happy to share those insights with any organisation that wants to get better at communicating.
One of those insights is that communications staff spend too much time and effort doing what she describes as “the stupid stuff”.
“Any people here ever had to do something they knew was stupid because somebody more powerful told them to?” Paine asks, receiving almost unanimous affirmation.
“That’s why I don’t work in corporate communications anymore,” she says with a laugh.
Paine estimates that only about 5 per cent of the work done by staff working in communications is “because it benefits our mission”. Instead, she reckons about 47 per cent of their work is done “because the boss said so”, 37 per cent “because someone thought it was a good idea”, and 11 per cent “because it’s cool”. Her audience murmurs with acknowledgment. Clearly nobody thinks this is the best way for Bible publishers to communicate effectively.
Another insight: Paine explains that organisations can no longer afford to develop their communication strategies in silos, a strategy that results in different messages being communicated via an organisation’s website, social media, marketing and events.
“There’s very little you can’t measure.” – Katie Delahaye Paine
Instead, she says, organisations need to develop a high-tech, customer-focused overall message so that every piece of communication amplifies the others. This is how to develop an authentic brand identity that can stand up to the accountability of audiences and stakeholders who are receiving all these messages.
“There’s very little you can’t measure,” she says, confidently, going on to advise how to figure out which data is useful and which is not. She is The Measurement Queen, after all.
And, in a world of abundant Facebook data, Google analytics, and more, Paine knows it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and confused.
“Get good data,” she advises. “The data you need.”
Determining what that data is, according to Paine, should be guided by “the goals you’ve set and the outcomes you’re expected to deliver.”
“The numbers aren’t important by themselves,” she says. “The comparison month to month is what’s important.”
And what about the rest of the data that’s available these days? Paine says recording it is unnecessary.
“Research without insight is just trivia!” she proclaims. “Throw it away.”