Posted tagged ‘Success Measures’

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.”

Baseball, Pennant Races, the Mets and Strategy

August 28, 2008

Besides strategy, one of my personal passions is baseball. Boy, do I love watching a good baseball game.

I think that is because there is an element of strategy and tactics wrapped up in every single game. In fact, if you spend some time thinking about it, you would be surprised at how complementary baseball and strategy truly are to one another.

Like strategy, a baseball team measures its success by how it ranks relative to its industry. Is it in first place or the middle of the pack?

Understanding the competition and how it will react to various scenarios is also very evident in our national pastime. And baseball teams, to be successful, must have a healthy supply chain (aka farm system) and excel at talent management and growth. Of course, it must have solid management who can communicate effectively internally and externally.

Baseball teams must have a management philosophy, or a set of operating principles on how it will treat teammates and the opposition, and even the fans. And of course, is there any other sport or business, for that matter, that has quite the same amount of statistical success measures.

On the business side, it must be very clear who its customers are, what customer experience they truly value and what makes them want to return time and again. And with salary caps in place, teams most certainly must know how to budget.

Which brings us to the National League East…

Two nights ago, the New York Mets, my favorite team, went to battle against their chief rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies. As I watched a seven run lead begin to evaporate, my mind shifted to the concept of scenario planning. The Mets bullpen, its Achilles heel all season, was unraveling.

Thoughts then turned to scenario planning and the concept of seasonality. Hmm…with September just four days away and the ability to call up fifteen additional player reinforcements from the minor leagues, would it have not made sense to bring in a powerful starting pitcher to nail down a victory.

Clearly, not something one would be likely to consider in the heat of battle, but with advance planning and a better understanding of seasonality, it sure would have represented a very interesting option, don’t you think?


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