Goals are essential for taking your personal life and business prosperity to higher levels of performance, satisfaction and success. All too often, best intentions can get derailed over time. Here are 4 basic principles that apply to any resolution, initiative, program, dashboard, or MBO (management by objectives; incentives or stretch goals):
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.
How to Connect to the Big Picture
One of the biggest metrics mistakes is random selection. The best metrics start with the big picture:
- Overall Objective: Identify the overall objective of your company or initiative. State it quantitatively. It should answer the question: “We’ll know this is successful when we see _____ happen.”
- Cascading Focus: Like a waterfall, the overall goal is cascaded to each level of the program or organization, to identify successive contributions to the big-picture goal.
- Metrics: Metric definition moves in the opposite direction of the cascading goals. How will you measure progress of the action plan at the lowest level of the organization or initiative? How will this roll upward through the successive layers of the organization or initiative?
- Validate: Scrutinize your answers for logic and refine as needed.
How to Make Measures Actionable
Metrics at the lowest layer of an initiative or organization have the highest actionability. A focus on the most actionable metrics is essential for “moving the needle” of big-picture metrics.
- Opportunity or Problem: When you identify a problem or opportunity that needs to be addressed, this is the symptom that you will explore for root cause analysis. Start with the observable problem or opportunity, not with possible solutions.
- Objective & Goal: For the symptom identified, specify the non-quantitative goal as well as the quantitative objective before exploring root causes and metrics.
- Root Cause: Identify the root cause(s) of the overall symptom by using the 5 Why’s technique or the Fishbone Diagram.
- Validate: Validate the root cause(s) to make sure it’s the malfunctioning issue that ties clearly to the symptom.
- Shared Vision: Use your root cause analysis diagram to help create a shared vision, empowerment, and momentum.
Continue reading for the 3rd and 4th Tips for Keeping Goals & Initiatives On-Track.
These are excerpts from the handbook Metrics You Can Manage For Success, written by Lynn Hunsaker. One reader (Shirley Desai, marketing consultant and author of “Seven Connections to Happiness & Harmony: Decision-Making Made Easy”) has this to say about the handbook:
“This is a valuable resource to professionals in marketing, finance and other functions where accountability and performance management tracking is vital. Reading this has opened my eyes to new ways of understanding and using metrics. Lynn Hunsaker converts the seemingly complex and intimidating topic of predictive metrics into very clear and simple terms.”