Performance and the Big Picture

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely performers1

Performance is a funny, all-encompassing word. It applies to literally any action. Anything that can possibly be done—anything performed—is a performance.2

Whether we talk about “web performance” or “business performance” or any other kind of performance, it’s people all the way down.

Performance only matters because it matters to someone.

Ultimately, performance is a measure of what matters.

To whom? It’s people all the way down… People have beliefs, form businesses, perform operations. Performance, as a discipline, manages those operations.3

Every operation has its own measures of performance. So too, every level: each department, function, output. Every person has their own notion of what matters most to them—employees and customers alike.

It’s performance all the way down…

The primary tools of performance are measurement and judgement.

How will we measure our product? Our business? And at the end of the day, our lives?


  1. All the world’s a stage on Wikipedia. 

  2. And anything about that thing can be used to qualify its performance! 

  3. I’m still working out this concept of “performance as a discipline”. Performance science and performance management are recognized things, but I have a hard time visualizing their boundaries. Really, I expect a general discipline of performance to explain how to decide what to measure. Those principles seem to be lacking (or at least, I haven’t found them yet). So for now, since my personal work is focused on web performance in the context of business, I view performance as a branch of operations management. That framing at least helps position the role of a web performance specialist within the context of a business (but not so much for performance in general). Ideally, I’d like to find principles for measuring performance in general, but that search will likely last a lifetime… 


Open Graph image by unsplash-logoSelvan B