During the early 1700s, many prisoners were shipped by the British government to Australia. The British government would pay the sea captains upfront for each prisoner onboarded to the ship.
To their dismay, about 1/3rd of the males on the ship died during the voyage. The rest arrived in pathetic condition and were fortunate to have survived the horrific journey.
The government tried to fix this by making changes like:
— Having a doctor on onboard
— Raise the captain’s salary
— bring lemons onboard to prevent scurvy diseases etc.
But none of these efforts yielded the desired results. Many prisoners continued to die during the journey and landed in horrible conditions.
And then an economist recommended a solution that changed everything – ” pay the ship captain for each prisoner who walked out of the ship in Austalia in good condition”
Voila, this immediately changed the scenario, and the survival rate shot up to 99%
This real-life story goes to show how important it is for us to decide the metrics that one should measure during a task. To get the desired outcome it is critical for you to spend time to find the correct metric that will automatically drive the behavioral change that is required in the organization.