To build momentum in reaching goals, best intentions need to be bolstered with 4 basic principles that apply to any resolution, initiative, program, dashboard, or incentive:
1. Connected — make sure you’re focusing on things with strong connections to overall objectives.
2. Actionable — select strongly connected success measures that allow you to control outcomes.
3. Predictive — emphasize actionable, connected metrics with strong cause-and-effect to objectives.
4. Sustained — setup the right environment for predictive measures to keep producing strong results.
Part 1 of this article provided the first two tips for identifying connected and actionable focus areas. To increase likelihood of achieving great results, let’s explore ways to make your focus areas predictive and sustained.
How to Make Measures Predictive
Not all actionable metrics are predictive of the big-picture goal. Focusing on predictive actionable metrics leads to desired results for big-picture metrics.
- Inputs & Control Points: Among the root causes identified earlier, some may be inputs to a key process, and others may be critical junctures within the process itself.
- Resources & Culture: The ability of a process to meet its objectives is often determined by resources, skills, stakeholder buy-in and cultural factors. These are levers you might employ to improve the process inputs and process control points.
- Tallies: To track action plan progress, use tallies, check sheets, control charts, run charts, pie charts, or any other monitoring method.
How to Sustain Results
Now that you’ve built momentum in connected, actionable, predictive metrics, make sure you get lasting results.
- Tashiro Chart: For sustained momentum in leading indicators’ progress, the Tashiro Chart is a one-page action plan combined with a trend chart of the action plan’s leading indicator.
- Flag Chart: For a birds’ eye view of what’s going well, the Flag Chart gives management a quick indication of trends, highlights, and concerns.
- Balanced Scorecard: Like a pilot’s dashboard of dials reflecting the spectrum of an airplane’s key metrics, a Balanced Scorecard concisely depicts the spectrum of key metrics for an entire organization or initiative. Ideally, it includes layers of inputs, control points, and levers.
- Goldmines verus Landmines: Appropriate use of dashboards is imperative. It’s quite common for metrics to be mis-used, mis-trusted and mis-managed. What gets measured gets done, so improper use of metrics can lead to unintended behaviors that may negate the expected value of having metrics in the first place.
Impossible to Measure?
Many business and personal efforts are inherently non-quantitative. It’s difficult to see any way of measuring such efforts. Yet there’s always an associated leading indicator that can be tracked with yes/no, low/medium/high, or other metric that can be monitored over time to observe trends and assess predictive strength. Creativity tools such as those suggested in the book “A Whack on the Side of the Head” are great for viewing these challenges constructively.
For hard-to-quantify topics, ask yourself: what’s the big picture objective, what’s actionable, what’s predictive, and how can it become sustainable over time? Examples of this thought process are shared in Metrics You Can Manage For Success for the dilemmas of managing miles-per-gallon, budget, weight, productivity, ROI and customer satisfaction. One reader (Kathy Klotz-Guest, marketing and levity expert) has this to say about the handbook:
“Straightforward, practical and a must-read for anyone needing to manage ahead of the business curve, not behind it. The pressure to achieve ROMI (marketing return on investment) is tremendous, especially in tough times. So what are the metrics that matter for your business? This ebook discusses ways (and provides worksheets) to peel back the cause-and-effect variables driving any business initiative in order to uncover the most critical metrics managers need to monitor. Clearly and concisely written, this is an invaluable resource for managing any size business in any industry.”