According to PMI’s 2017 Global Project Management Survey, 1 in 4 strategic initiatives fail. This is not great news for anyone who recently spent days in a conference room and weeks or months preparing for an Annual Planning Session to write strategic initiatives. I imagine you’d like to see more than just a handful of those initiatives bear fruit. How can you turn the odds in your favor?
by Patrick Thean and the Rhythm Team
If you’ve ever worked at an entrepreneurial company, been a business owner, or worn the hat of sales person, then you understand a revenue drought. This past year I worked with a company that had been growing annually at just over the 20%. Then, due to industry changes, a lost salesperson, and higher expenses – there was a sudden announcement, if sales didn’t increase that there would have to be layoffs.
The common mistake many companies make is to start designing a bunch of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for their company. They start with a burst of energy, gather together the team and work on KPIs in a quarterly planning session. They ask, "What do we need to measure in each department?" This produces 18 to 25 KPIs, a couple for each key executive to work on. Convinced they have changed the company, they dash off excited to see what results they will generate in the upcoming quarter. What they should be asking is "How do I create a KPI that measures my team's performance?" A quarter later, many are demoralized and not much progress has been made measuring these KPIs. They lose steam and by the 3rd quarter, it's back to business as usual.
“Are you kidding me? Have a meeting every day! We already have way too many meetings. The last thing my team wants to do is add another one..... every day.”
Yep, that was me about 12 years ago when my coach, Dan Weston, suggested we implement the daily huddle meeting in my company. I was reluctant, but he made me promise to give it a try. My team was reluctant at first too, but in time, this became one of the most important rhythms in the company. And, not only did the executive team huddle, but the design team huddled, customer service and sales huddled, the engineers huddled and the front line supervisors huddled daily.
One of my favorite teams to coach through the Rhythm Cascade process is the Sales team. Having been part of a large sales organization myself, it's always interesting to see different teams in action. Some teams have a list of 50 KPIs that they track, while others are starting from scratch. No matter the starting point, the question I get is the same: "What are the most common ones you see as a Rhythm Coach?" Below are a few of the usual suspects, along with some tips from some of our most successful sales teams on Rhythm.
You’re a couple of months into your 2019 plans - the honeymoon phase. Your plan still looks good, you’re excited to see it as often as possible, can’t stop talking about it, probably taking annoying selfies with your plan. I get it - it’s pretty exciting. You are bound to learn throughout the year things you didn’t know about your plan when you first fell in love. Perhaps the way it's executed isn’t the way you would do it, or others aren’t excited about it and it’s bringing you down - making you second guess.
The struggle is real. We’ve all been in meetings about our metrics that produce seemingly endless discussion about the numbers, with no real actions, outcomes or impact on results. CEOs list this as one of their top frustrations – all-talk-and-no-action meetings regarding their Key Performance Indicators or meeting KPIs.
So, how do you avoid the marathon hamster wheel and have an effective KPI discussion in your weekly team meeting? Teams who are really good at this have two things in common: a properly set up KPI dashboard and a great facilitator. Here are some patterns regarding both:
When companies are small, it’s not such a challenge to get things done. Maybe you have a meeting (where the whole company attends), you come up with an idea, and you go out there and do it. Everyone was there from the beginning, everyone understands the plan, and everyone does their part to get it done. That’s not to say there aren’t challenges with execution for small companies, but typically, if small companies do a good job hiring the right people, figuring out their strategy, and ensuring there is enough cash to run the business, then execution is something that can easily be managed. However, as your company grows and the people who come up with the ideas and plans are no longer the ones who are actually doing all the work, successfully executing the plan gets much more difficult.
It may still feel like the middle of winter to some, but you might find that it is time to do some spring-cleaning when it comes to your KPIs. We recommend tracking no more than 8-12 KPIs at a time for each team, but we’ve noticed that some of our clients get trapped by what we call “KPI creep.” They may start with a list that makes sense for their business, and then over time, the KPIs just get rolled over from one quarter to the next and one year to the next, and they keep adding to the list as they develop new critical numbers or want to move the needle on different metrics. Before too long, their KPI dashboard is like that nightmare closet; you know, like your teenager’s closet, when you open the door and stuff falls out on your head because it is just so full and disorganized.