Key Performance Indicators – or KPIs – stem from an insight that is most often attributed to Peter Drucker, in his 1954 book titled, ‘The Practice of Management’:
‘What gets measured gets managed’
That attribution may be contested, but the central assertion seems pretty sound. If your organisation measures performance against a specific metric, then its managers feel an incentive to manage their parts of the business, so that they perform well against that metric. KPIs are nothing more nor less than the key – or most valuable – metrics.