It’s that time of year, balls of all shapes and sizes , games of all descriptions are in progress. The Super Bowl is just completed, the basketball season is in full swing, baseballs are coming out of the closet and the Winter Olympics are right around the corner. Is there a message for managers watching all of these sporting events?
Think back a few years to previous championship games. Do you recall any of the great defensive lineman having their performances judged statistically? You know what I mean. Today we hear that the lineman had 13 &1/2 sacks or that they lead the league in making contact behind the line of scrimmage. We now know who runs the first 10 yards of a 40 yard dash the fastest!
The message is to measure. It’s still the final score that counts, but if you want to improve overall results, a team’s performance must be broken down into discrete elements. Those elements must be measured, objectives established for future performance and programs implemented to meet the objectives. It’s true for every sport.
If you want to improve the operation of your business, take it apart and identify the individual elements that contribute to the whole. Measure your current performance and set attainable goals for improvement. Initiate actions that will cause that performance to improve. Measure the results to evaluate your improvement.
The fact of the matter is that if you can’t measure the results of an activity, it’s going to be hard to improve your results Find the “defensive linemen” in your business and develop measurable standards to quantify their performance.
It’s not the sports commentators that have originated most of these new statistics. It’s the coaching staffs that have developed these measurements as a “means” to improve productivity and performance. I emphasize the word “means” because you can’t lose sight of the overall objective. After the game, statistics are for losers, it’s only the final score that counts. Quantitative analysis, measurement and statistics are of value for improving future performance, not a substitute for it.
Measurement of performance doesn’t have to be perfect or exact. Don’t waste inordinate time or resources in perfecting the measurement system. This is an area where “good enough” usually is. After all, what really defines a “half sack”. The important point is that a lineman credited with a half sack, was around that quarterback when he was tackled. That’s productivity for a defensive lineman.
After you have broken down your operation to its individual elements and established measurements for them, don’t lose sight of the big picture. It’s not sufficient to be the top hitter on a last place team. The team must eventually win. That’s why in baseball we are hearing more about a player’s batting average with men on base and how often a batter leaves runners stranded on third base. Concentrate on those areas that will impact the final score.
Goal setting and measurement of individual operations are the “means” to improved productivity and overall performance. You can’t let one individual or one part of a company be satisfied with their quotas if the overall operation is not being successful.
Sports team do it, big companies are doing it and small businesses are doing it too. If you want to improve performance, you need to quantify the individual elements that contribute to the overall results in your organization. How many calls were made? How many rejected parts were produced? How many letters were sent? How many claims were processed?
Measurement of activities relating to customer service often prove illusive. Concerns to be addressed include the timing, accuracy and responsiveness of the company to customer needs. It can be done however.
One service related company determined that to be competitive with customer expectations processing time would have to be three weeks or less. A goal of two weeks was established and a program to accomplish the objective was implemented. Without having first determined how to measure this component of customer service, no improvement would have been possible.
You won’t improve an activity until you can quantify it. Measure individual performances only for the purpose of improving the overall result. Don’t get hung up on exact measurement, its direction that counts. Because it’s your business, start quantifying your activities and get your organization going in the right direction.