The Lamp Post

I walked past a tube station the other day, it was a little after nine and dark outside. The was a lamp post not far from the tube station entrance and a man was walking around beneath it, looking intently at the ground.

 It was pretty quiet that time of night and so this chap stood out somewhat.

 I stood and watched for a moment before deciding to check everything was alright.

‘Excuse me,’ I said, ‘is everything ok? I couldn’t help notice you walking around this lamp post staring at the ground!’

‘Oh’, he said, seemingly taken aback that someone had stopped and enquired. ‘I’ve lost my keys’, he said.

‘Oh dear, perhaps I can help you’, I offered. ‘When did you last see them?’  

He stopped and looked at me. Then his eyes shifted as he looked into his mind’s eye.

After a moment, he glanced back at the tube station and then his gaze returned to me.

‘I can’t remember when I last saw them’, he said, ‘but I do remember it was whilst I was on the tube.’

I was a little taken aback!

‘On the tube?’ I remarked! ‘Why ever are you looking up here then?’

‘Well it’s dark down there, but I can see up here’.

In business, how often do we adopt the easy route or the path of least resistance? In sales, how often do we try and measure something just because we can see it? It may not be the right metric and we may not be looking in the right place. But it’s there, easy to see and visible.

The use of metrics to determine performance is critical and so should focus on three areas – quantity, quality and direction. If you want to be able to assess the effectiveness of any activity, then each area should be measured in turn and on a regular basis.

It’s sometimes appealing just to measure one of these areas and it’s usually the one which is the easiest to see. More often than not, this is one associated with quantity (or productivity). In other words, are they doing enough, making enough, seeing enough, or calling enough?

But the problem here is that it’s very one dimensional and may result in you assessing the performance of an individual or an initiative based on a set of metrics which lead you to an incomplete or inaccurate set of conclusions.

Keep in mind that the goal of measuring is to determine what is working and what is not, so that you can replicate the activities which lead to success and cease or adjust the activities which are less successful.

When we’re choosing what to measure, we need to make sure that we’re focusing on the right things and not just the things which are easy to measure or easy to see.

Note: Special thanks go to Ifti Ahmed of Titanium Partners for sharing the ‘Lamp Post Story’ with me. Take a look at what Ifti and the team do at

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