I have been a member of the Realising-Potential leadership team for more than a decade. During this time, I have been involved in some very fast moving and animated discussions on the concept of ‘returns’ organisations expect from internal investments, such as strategic performance architecture or infrastructure projects.

As a student of numbers (maths and finance) – I used to make the statement that anticipated returns are always expressed ‘in numbers’.

A long time ago, one of my colleagues – a student of design and data visualisation, cautioned me that such a statement was too narrow and could easily be interpreted as prescribing a shopping list for outcomes. I agreed with his statement, but know I appreciate the value of expressing outcomes in a simple and articulate way.

Many a robust discussion has occurred on this topic as we progressed our Realising Success methodology.

It became apparent to all, that what my colleague and I were both meaning – but saying differently – was that we believe anticipated returns from internal investments need to be assessed and monitored using value based metrics. These measures would be identified across the organisation and would clearly show the effects of the changes implemented. These measures could be financial, quality control indicators, productivity indicators and/or design based etc.

Interesting discussion has occurred within the Realising-Potential team as we have implemented such value based measures in our strategic performance architecture engagements. We have shown that by monitoring and analysing value based metrics, management has information throughout the investment life cycle on their progress towards achieving ‘returns’.

So whilst ‘returns’ will always be a number expressed as a percentage and is analysed at project start up and completion, management will have the opportunity to influence the returns realised by actively managing metrics.