The apple, and the growing and nurturing of the seed. The chicken dinner, and the preparation and cooking of the meat. One is a finished product, and the other are the actions that lead to the finished product. Now, which makes more of an impact when it comes to making something: understanding the final product (the apple), or understanding the recipe (how to properly grow an apple)?
The same question applies to companies: should they rely more on results metrics (the apple) or performance metrics (the recipe) when it comes to improving company and employee performance?
Result metrics show the results of an action, while performance metrics show the actions that lead to the results.
Many people believe that results metrics will improve performance; that by knowing the end result of a task, you can somehow improve the way you handle a similar task. This is wrong. While results metrics can cause small improvements in the short term, they do not, and can not, provide insight into the process and lead to long term performance increases. Attempting to improve performace based on results leads employees to base decisions on hunches, or make correlations from result metrics that may or may not have an impact.
Performance metrics track and measure the actions that lead to the result, and this is the key data every employee needs to have in order to make proper work-based decisions. The results don’t matter if you don’t know how they happened. By knowing the performance metrics for bad results, you can compare them to the performance metrics for good results, to see the specifics of what worked or didn't work.