Have you ever wondered why sports are so motivating? In fact, not only are they motivating to the players, but also to spectators. Can you imagine people—fans—coming to watch you work, paying for the privilege to see you in action? One of the key reasons sports are so stimulating is that we keep score.
Scorekeeping is at the heart of competition. We keep track of scores, measurements, and stats to determine success and identify areas for improvement. At any point during a sporting event, every player, coach, and fan knows exactly where their team stands. This information provides a base of knowledge to guide decisions that lead to better performance and success. In other words, scorekeeping lets us know if what we’re doing is effective. Too often in business we fail to keep score, and without some objective measure, we cannot know for certain if we are being effective. Just as in athletics, measurement drives the business process.
In the 1960s Frederick Herzberg, an industrial psychologist, set out to determine what motivates people in the workplace. His extensive research identified the top two motivators as achievement and recognition. We contend that the only way to know if you are achieving is through measurement—that is, keeping score. A common misconception is that scoring damages self-esteem, but research indicates the opposite: Measurement builds self-esteem and confidence because it documents progress and achievement.