Posted tagged ‘Goals’

Types of Measures

February 20, 2009

There are three types of measures:

1. Activity measures

2. Output measures

3. Impact measures

Activity measures tells us how efficiently something was done. It answers questions such as:

  • How long does it take?
  • How productive is the department?
  • How many resources were used?

It focuses us on internal tasks, timing and resources but it is NOT about outcomes. As an example, profitability is an activity measure because it relates incoming revenue to internal operational costs. It measures the efficiency within which resources are utilized to produce income.

You’ll find activity measures are usually used with internal operations groups and frequently these are the measures used for multiple phases of processes

Output Measures emphasize the results of the work rather than the work activities themselves. Outputs tend to be physical products, services and communications that one group sends to another. These types of measures answers questions about what has been produced such as:

  • Does the product meet quality standards?
  • Was the product sent on time?
  • Was the product delivered on time?
  • Was the customer satisfied?

Output measures are about products NOT about production. They gauge quality, timeliness and evaluation by the CUSTOMER or USERS and therefore the measuring source is usually outside of the group producing the output.

Customer satisfaction is an output measure that requires obtaining feedback from outside the organization (this can be a customer internal or external to the organization.) Most output measures are using internal standards. These measures are useful when you are interested in whether the results meet certain standards.

My personal favorite is the last of our set and the one the President and our legislative leaders truly want to cause.

Impact measures ALWAYS require feedback or customer research to develop meaningful measures. So what is the difference between customer satisfaction measures and impact measures?

Customer satisfaction measures what the customer likes. Impact measures what the product does for the customer. It is all about value.

Impact measures answers questions such as:

  • Does the product make the customer more productive?
  • More successful?
  • Do the services make the customer more effective?
  • More influential?
  • Do the products help the customers reach their goals?

These measures require serious examination of the customer because there is no other way to get information about the customer’s productivity, success measures or goals without their input and evaluation.

Most important it shifts the focus to “What do you need from us to help you succeed on your own measures of success?” This type of measure alters relationships and makes what you achieve more valuable.

It makes you realize exactly what is the point of what we do.

Developing Success Measures

February 18, 2009

One of the more pressing questions asked of President Obama recently was how the American people could tell if the stimulus package was effective. What he was actually being asked to address was the concept of success measures.

In the business world, success measures are what we call “goals.”

Here’s why goals are so important.

  • Goals and objectives are the links between the organizational vision and the new environment.
  • Goals clarify expectations about what needs to be done to help the organization make the transition into the envisioned environment.
  • Goals give direction to individuals and teams for planning and executing change.
  • Goals tell us what we need to do. As such, goals must be measurable.

We measure for a variety of reasons:

  • Tells us if we are winning
  • Defines performance and gives people an observable and quantifiable way to measure progress over time
  • Tells people what really counts and is desirable
  • What gets measured is what gets done
  • Publishing measures makes things change – it shines a light
  • Measures make commitments real – otherwise it may be perceived as a wish or a good idea
  • Forces confusion and misunderstanding into the open by creating an opportunity for alignment
  • Pulls people together

Without goals, we are like Alice in Wonderland as she asked directions of the Cheshire Cat. “Would you please tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t care much where,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat. “As long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation. “Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “If you only walk long enough.”

How many business improvement initiatives can a company manage at any one time?

October 24, 2008

Operating a business in these challenging times is certainly not easy. In the last two posts, I introduced a number of strategies that make sense during an economic downturn. One of these strategies can best be classified as a sales strategy – that is, how to reignite opportunities that one would otherwise expect to stagnate when the economy is in difficult straits and businesses are adhering strongly to the philosophy of hoarding cash because “cash is king.”

The other strategy looked to the internal workings of a company and focused on how a company might best use underutilized resources that are suddenly available because sales are lagging. In this context, we discussed the development of best practices and the optimization of internal processes.

It is on this internal opportunity that I would like to discuss in today’s post.

The internal business process redesign discussion begs the question as to how many initiatives can a company manage at any given time. Is there an optimal number and if there isn’t, how does one determine how many initiatives are manageable so that business opportunities and the needs of clients continue to be addressed?

In all of my research and studies, I have yet to come across a discussion that addresses this particular question. To address this question, I will rely on my thirty years of experience as a CEO and consultant and share with you what I have learned from my experiences as a strategist.

To perform this analysis, one must:

  • Understand your company’s strategic goals
  • Define what tactics are required to support these strategic goals
  • Establish what each department must do to achieve the strategic goals
  • Determine the time and effort required by departmental staff to support the achievement of the core goals that essentially enable the company to deliver value and stay in business

What remains after performing this analysis is the amount of time available for personnel to address new improvement initiatives.

In other words, this analysis is predicated on assessing the company’s priorities and the core roles that must be fulfilled. After all, customer support personnel must perform their support function or the company risks client defections. Sales and relationship professionals must be engaging prospects and customers to assure growth. Accounting and internal support staff must make certain that the infrastructure exists so that the organization can run efficiently. These are the prime functions of these departments.

So is there an optimal amount or maximum number of initiatives a company can manage? As best as I can tell, the number of enterprise-wide initiatives that a company can swallow is typically between one and three. (Note added 11/09/08: Interestingly, several weeks after this post was written, the Obama Transition Team was enagged in a similar conversation and may have reached a similar conclusion.)

The reason that I believe this to be so is that I have concluded that most people have a difficulty managing more than five significant goals or projects simultaneously at any given time. And if one considers that the average person has two or three core functions for which he or she is accountable, this only leaves so much space for professional and organizational development without impacting the core responsibilities that each of us have.

The Four Questions You Must Answer and The Importance of Your Vision

September 4, 2008

It’s time then to get down to the more practical aspects of creating a business strategy.

Fundamentally speaking, every strategic plan must answer these four questions and they must be answered in this very logical progression:

  1. Who are we?
  2. What are we?
  3. What do we want to be?
  4. What can stop us from getting there?

The answer to the first question is articulated in the mission and vision of the company. The mission states what business we are in and what we do and provide for our clients.

However, it is the vision of what the company hopes to become that establishes the strategic direction for the organization. An effective vision lays out a future about what the company hopes to become. It typically is uncomfortable, much like clothing that is too big because it doesn’t fit who we are today. (I still remember that as a child, my Mom would always say “don’t worry, you’ll grow into it.” Visions are just like that.)

The vision states the value that we are ultimately committed to providing to our clients, employees, stockholders and even ourselves. It motivates us to stretch beyond where we are today.

Establishing a vision first is critical because it becomes our corporate compass. It sets a direction and destination for the company. The tactical options that we choose to implement must propel us towards reaching that destination, and so, the vision helps us to make intelligent choices. When opportunities present themselves we are able to evaluate them in a context of whether it moves us forward and whether it moves us forward more effectively than the other options that are available to us.

It is important to recognize that understanding the vision is a requirement for every member of the organization. If you subscribe to the belief, as I do, that every job in a company is meaningful – otherwise why do it or pay someone to do it? – then you must conclude that every employee will be expected to make choices on behalf of the company. The greatest tool that we may provide to our people is the vision as it will provide the context for so many decisions.

A vision is very different from goals and objectives. Goals and objectives are predictions of what we are going to accomplish or do in the next weeks or months or quarter to get to our vision. The vision though must come first as it is the foundation for goal setting that is based in the future and not in the past.


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