“What Gets Measured Gets Managed”

Posted on April 28, 2015

What Gets Measured Gets Managed
by Rev Dr Kim Miller, SMART Recovery Facilitator, Australia

Peter Drucker was the world’s most influential business management teacher and author following the second world war. In my long-gone engineering days I was trained in his Management By Objectives principles and thought I’d left it all behind when I left engineering. However, today I want to highlight one of his management quotes:

“What gets measured gets managed.”

We can see how this can relate to the business world. If you are selling potatoes and have a goal to do better you need to know how many bags of potatoes you sold last week so you can increase sales next week. If you are a taxi company wanting quicker response times you need to keep track of every call, every car, every driver. You need to measure it to manage it. Without measuring anything you lose control of everything.

Drucker’s quote has a great relevance to SMART Recovery. After all, this is the place where we talk about a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) as a specific way of weighing up (measuring) the good against the bad when using drugs or alcohol. We have a Hierarchy of Values worksheet where we make a long list of values, then we pick the five most important – we have a built-in values system that allows us to measure their relative importance.

If we take Drucker’s quote to heart, then we can make these worksheets work more effectively for us. The CBA becomes a tool for measuring how our mind is changing. We will do it more often because we see the value of keeping track of our thinking. How often do you check the speedometer of your car? Only once an hour? Of course not. You keep a reasonably constant check because you need to constantly manage it.

Who could have thought that a quote from a business guru would be so relevant to addiction management? I suppose we should not really be surprised. Peter Drucker was something of a visionary in his day. So I leave you with the hope that you will catch a sense of vision for yourself from this one statement; ‘What gets measured gets managed’. It’s a statement of hope and empowerment, and it can point us to a better future.


Kim Miller is a departmental prison chaplain in NSW, Australia. He is the department’s only community chaplain, working in a post-release project called Home For Good. The team includes drug and alcohol counselors and Kim joins them in facilitating SMART Recovery meetings. His PhD work involves the psychology of personal growth and transformation and how we become more fully ourselves. Kim enjoys writing and has published several books.


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3 thoughts on ““What Gets Measured Gets Managed”

  1. Frank B.

    I have learned as a facilitator – that a lot happens in people’s heads. When they have to priorytize their values with the HOV tool (Hierarchy of Values) – it makes it easier to think on one thing at a time – or 5 Things – instead of all the daily problems that cause the use. So it makes sense to measure.

  2. Mark N.

    This is one of the first things I learned in SMART. When I saw this I knew I was in a room with people like me. Rational people. I didn’t continue with group meetings but I did keep the tools. I’ve been sober over 5 years.

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