Motivating Metrics

Telling compelling stories with numbers

Originally published on the Bureau Blank Blog

Recently we were presented with an unusual challenge from ChangeLab Solutions. They were interested in the possibility of creating a tracking system to measure the activity of multiple organizations working to combat childhood obesity.

We realized the largest problem was not building the technology but motivating people, busy with the task in hand, to adopt the system and actually record their efforts. We considered a number of solutions, but the most interesting was inspired by an unlikely source: Florence Nightingale.

Collecting information is important if we want to make better decisions, but focusing on the input is only one side of the equation. A tracking system is only useful when married with an output and so a method of sharing the metrics with key influencers was the next logical step. In a connected world we accept that transparency is important, but without understanding it’s meaningless.

Florence Nightingale understood the value of a compelling story. As a nurse treating injured soldiers in the Crimean War, she witnessed many preventable deaths resulting from poor hygiene but knew that raw data alone would not inspire reform. Instead, she created a series of pioneering infographics, popularizing the use of the pie chart, and presented a case with far greater impact.

Our solution to motivate users was to develop a platform that would not only capture and relay data, but also generate meaningful resources. By combining the output with understanding we can create an ever-evolving system. Those who see the results of their actions are inspired to contribute and the more they contribute, the more valuable the results.