Numbers and KPIs: Rules Count!                  

Ronald G.  Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC) Read Author Bio       || Read All Articles by Ronald G. Ross

How many of the following cities have you visited? Count 'em up. I'll tell you my personal count at the end of the column.

New York Toronto Tokyo Bangkok Melbourne
Mumbai Hong Kong Beirut Cairo Moscow
London Munich Rome Copenhagen Berlin
Milan Kiev Los Angeles Sao Paolo Istanbul
Montreal Beijing Singapore Abu Dhabi Casablanca
Dublin Prague Barcelona Amsterdam Budapest
Athens Manila Las Vegas Vancouver Jakarta
Shanghai Cape Town Stockholm Paris Vienna
Glasgow Osaka Taipei Miami Santiago
Seoul Dubai Lagos Warsaw Lisbon
Auckland Hanoi Honolulu Perth New Delhi
Rio de Janeiro Chicago Zagreb

Of course, the precision of your answer depends on your rules — just like any other KPI you might measure. Here are some questions about your city count you might want to ask.

  • If you connect flights in an airport but never physically leave the airport, does that count as a city you have visited? For example, I have connected on same-day flights in and out of Singapore but, as a transient passenger, could not go outside customs. Does Singapore count?

  • If you are a passenger in a hired car without input on the route and you pass through a city without stopping or veering from the predetermined route, does that count as a city you have visited? For example, I have passed through Berlin on a chauffeured drive from Amsterdam to Dresden. Does Berlin count? (By the way we were on the autobahn after midnight, so the trip didn't take that long!)

  • If you were on a cruise ship that had an outbreak of the pandemic and you anchored at a port but could not leave the ship, would that city count? Luckily, I do not have a personal example of this case(!).

The Freedom of Movement Rule

My daughter and I have had the same kinds of questions in a different travel game. We each keep track of the number of U.S. states and Canadian provinces we have visited. Like daughter, like father, we are both fierce competitors. So, to resolve edge cases, we had to come up with a rule to go (count) by. Rules help keep peace in the family(!). By the way, my personal counts for this travel game are also at the end of the column.

Our solution was what we called the Freedom of Movement Rule. To say you have visited a state or province, you must have the opportunity (even if you don't necessarily take it) to move freely about. For the cities-visited game, the Freedom of Movement Rule would disallow counting Singapore and Berlin and any city where a quarantined cruise ship might have docked.

My daughter once drove us more than 50 miles out of our way in Minnesota to cross the border into Wisconsin so she could count that state. She just did a u-turn at the first legal opportunity. But Wisconsin counts for her — freedom of movement!

Actually, we were over the border for literally only 5-6 minutes. Do you think that's too short a time to count as a visit? What would your rule be for minimum length of visit? (Let me know your thoughts and reasoning. Like I said, I am very competitive with my daughter about this game!)

Motivation Matters

I think the natural tendency on the city/state/province counts is to inflate. A higher number looks more impressive. But suppose I told you I was willing to finance your visits to places you've never visited. Then, you might be a little more conservative in your count. Motivation matters!

Or suppose the KPI is crime rate in a place. You are the city official responsible for promoting your city to out-of-towners for tours, conventions, and conferences. You'd be tempted to discount the crime rate some, wouldn't you?! Just saying!

Now these visit examples and KPIs are all just games. Business is an altogether different matter. Want to be data-driven? If factual numbers matter to you, you'd better know the rules!

My Counts

My Personal Count of the Cities: 28

My Personal Count of U.S. States and Canadian Provinces: 49 and 10, respectively

If you have read this far, you are probably curious which state I'm missing. The answer is Alaska, a planned 2020 trip, a casualty of the pandemic. By the way, there are 10 provinces in Canada. Many (most?) Canadians have not been to all 10.

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Standard citation for this article:

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Ronald G. Ross, "Numbers and KPIs: Rules Count!                  " Business Rules Journal, Vol. 22, No. 12, (Dec. 2021)

About our Contributor:

Ronald  G. Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC)

Ronald G. Ross is Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rule Solutions, LLC, where he actively develops and applies the BRS Methodology including RuleSpeak®, DecisionSpeak and TableSpeak.

Ron is recognized internationally as the "father of business rules." He is the author of ten professional books including the groundbreaking first book on business rules The Business Rule Book in 1994. His newest are:

Ron serves as Executive Editor of and its flagship publication, Business Rules Journal. He is a sought-after speaker at conferences world-wide. More than 50,000 people have heard him speak; many more have attended his seminars and read his books.

Ron has served as Chair of the annual International Business Rules & Decisions Forum conference since 1997, now part of the Building Business Capability (BBC) conference where he serves as Co-Chair. He was a charter member of the Business Rules Group (BRG) in the 1980s, and an editor of its Business Motivation Model (BMM) standard and the Business Rules Manifesto. He is active in OMG standards development, with core involvement in SBVR.

Ron holds a BA from Rice University and an MS in information science from Illinois Institute of Technology. Find Ron's blog on For more information about Ron visit Tweets: @Ronald_G_Ross

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