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Why Metrics Matter, How Do You Decide Which Ones?

Over the years I have never been much on metrics person.  Increasing market share was the main goal, through focusing on customer and product mix.  I have been working in strategic planning for 30 years and metrics were never much used in strategic planning.   The past few years I have changed and have seen changes in my clients.  We started pulling metrics into the strategic planning process (basic number, smart numbers, and critical numbers) to give us a mark in the sand to be able to measure if the strategic plan is taking us in the right direction.

I have attached a link for over 200 metrics we typically use in companies.  Metrics are used to change focus, to sharpen the game, to reward a team, to compare teams, to fine tune a process, to create a process, to identify a problem, to identify what’s working or not working, to identify whether to turn left or right.  We use them for performance reviews, to communicate success, develop training needs, and to allocate more or less resources.  We can determine velocity, energy, and intensity to change results.

People need to see if there actions are making a difference weekly, monthly, and quarterly.  Metrics are not just used for accountability, they are also used to show where we need to adjust the plan.  People (knowledge and skills) play more of a role than ever before in developing and executing a strategy.  Which makes metrics more important than ever.  We are able to collect data faster than ever before, we can identify leading indicators that tell us if our behavior or our doingness is going to give us the results we expect.

We have a more educated workforce than ever before.  They are technology savy, data savy, and if the numbers aren’t coming in immediately the way they are expected the younger generation is quick to make adjustments.  The older generation can’t hold them back waiting for the numbers to change or get better, or be different.  The younger generation will disengage because they know how to drive change in the numbers if we tell them what results we are trying to get.

On the other hand I have some companies that are still unsure of what data runs their companies.  Therefore they don’t have clarity on what needs to change to get the desired results.  Many times I hear them say, we just need to work harder and smarter.  Which I follow with “work smarter at what, and how much harder do we need to push?”

Without metrics your strategic plan is a waste of time.  Go to the metric link and select five new metrics for your company, select metrics that can only be obtained when people work together to make the results happen.  Make a contest with metrics followed by a celebration, then change the metrics for the next quarter!  Make metrics fun, let the teams create their own metrics to drive growth for the company.

What metrics to you have that measure innovation?  Is it one metric or a combination of metrics to make innovation happen.


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