This blog is part of a continuing five-part series, titled “The Pull of Change” that shares some of my experiences implementing transformational change in my personal life as well as in the business I oversee.
This post discusses how to measure progress.
Measurement and Process – Create a Framework for Action
To reach your destination, you must understand where you are relative to it. To lose weight, I bought a scale and counted my calories. For business change, your measuring sticks are your key performance indicators (KPIs). If you know what you want to measure but don’t have the data, get a handle on it now. This may mean implementing new systems or processes or reconfiguring them to better capture what you wish to measure. In other words, you must also have a plan for how you’ll measure and communicate performance.
For instance, there are three objectives that I find applicable to most businesses: keep existing customers, deepen relationships with them, and seek new ones.
Many businesses do this in reverse. Humans celebrate the next shiny new thing. We hire and handsomely reward salespeople but hear little of the glory of customer retention even though acquiring new customers usually comes at a higher cost. Our hunting roots run deep and we love celebrating those who bring home the fresh kill. Those who may have worked to preserve the previous day’s abundance didn’t quite make the cave drawings. When so much importance is placed on seeking new customers, those who deliver products or services can be overlooked and the revolving door of customers becomes quite expensive.
If keep, deepen, seek is a mantra your business can adopt, what do you measure? Keeping customers may involve attrition rates, and you would need to understand what KPI gives you that information. Deepening relationships may involve measuring how many accounts, transactions, visits, and/or downloads a customer has with you. Seeking new customers is the easiest measurement to take . . . maybe that’s why we focus so much on it.
Determine Your KPIs
Measurement is essential to reach your goals, and capturing the right data is essential to measurement. Set your goals and immediately set to work on systems that help you gauge progress towards them.
The goal was my target weight by a target date. Resources included my personal approach towards food (a set of values), a weight scale, and the My Fitness Pal app. The KPIs were my calorie counts and my weigh-in results. My process became how I used the app, when I checked my KPIs, and how I handled that data.
This remains the same when implementing an actionable plan at work. Not only do you need main and incremental goals but also a unified way of practicing your methods towards progress. For instance, if you have a year-end sales goal and purchase a CRM for management and measurement, an internal process informs usage of the tools towards progress. Which team members will be responsible for pulling data? When will they pull it? Who will analyze it? When will they analyze it? How will they respond to it? Details such as how to communicate the data or what program they export to can matter.
Respect the Process
Constructing and adhering to a consistent process is the most vulnerable part of the plan. In the weight loss journey, it’s 100% up to you at the end of the day. In business, you may need an entire department to shift their mindset and practices. You have the same problem but with more potential derailments. Loosely allowing different processes can be tempting, just as changing or skipping a scheduled weigh-in can be. Tightening up on processes and methods – unifying how teams operate to meet their goals – eventually pays off. The challenge then becomes finding the right time to introduce change and the best way of managing cultural challenges.
Learn to recognize when you may be pushing yourself or your team too much and when you or your team make excuses. Hold everyone accountable, kill excuses early, and nurture the everyday processes that impact the big picture.