Why you need a Chief Metrics Officer

By Barnaby Golden, 5 October, 2023

Aligning Individuals and Teams with the Company Strategy

How do you ensure that individuals and teams are aligned with the company strategy? How do you validate your company strategy?

The answer is typically to have good data. When we measure outcomes, our organization becomes more transparent.

Challenges with Good Data

Good data is hard to find though. The larger an organization is, the more complicated it becomes and the harder it is to associate cause with effect.

It is not at all unusual to watch the leaders of a department present a series of positive metrics, even though the organization itself is struggling. Fragmentation of large organizations allows this to happen: "Our part is working well; the problems are elsewhere."

Additionally, individuals and teams are incentivized to show success. They may be selective in what they measure, or they may game their metrics.

Assessing Metrics and Data

For these reasons, it seems clear that each organization should carefully assess their metrics and their data. There is a lot to this, including:

  • Checking to see if metrics are being gamed
  • Checking to see if metrics are driving the right behavior (perhaps gaming can be a good thing in a well-designed metric)
  • Ensuring that the metrics in use are valuable
  • Ensuring that metrics that reveal problems are not being hidden or ignored
  • Ensuring that decisions and initiatives have a measured outcome

Who Should be Responsible for Metrics?

You could argue that the responsibility for all of this is spread across the organization. It would also not be unusual to see this as part of the responsibility of a PMO.

However, I would point you back to the causes of the data problem: difficulty of associating cause with effect and the incentive to only show success. How do we ensure that the people who are responsible for assessing metrics are not subject to these drivers?

My argument is this is why you need to have somebody at the 'C' level who takes responsibility for metrics. I would describe this role as the Chief Metrics Officer.

Why Does it Need to be a 'C' Level Role?

For two reasons:

  1. Somebody at the 'C' level has the influence needed to do the work that connects cause with effect. This work is likely to have an associated cost: to do the analysis, to build better metrics, and possibly also to alter the organization structure to make outcomes easier to measure.
  2. Secondly, somebody at the 'C' level is less likely to need to only show success and hide problems. Of course, there will still be political pressure, but less so than for somebody more junior in the organization.


That is why you need a Chief Metrics Officer. Have confidence in your data, know your outcomes, and know your business.