The term in question here is Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and I'm sure most managers' eye do not glaze over when they hear it. They know that a term like 'KPI' is insider jargon for managers, which is why this HBS article is discussing it. The key to understanding KPI is benefit, which is why they ask questions about (say) training like "what the organization is getting out of this". A 'benefit' is the value for which you would exchange (say) money. Or labour. Or whatever. For a company, the only benefit that counts is profit. The indicator is what connects the (say) training with profits (either directly, or indirectly through a 'logic model'). For governments and public services, the definition of 'benefit' is much wider (unless your only bottom line is GDP), but the idea is still the same: to justify and measure the success of a program, you need a KPI that shows how the program produces the benefit. So if you're making proposals to managers, this is the language you need to use, because this is how they speak. This is the point this article is trying to make (I think), albeit in a rather convoluted way.