Kaihan Krippendorff, master strategist and author of Outthink the Competition and columnist for Fastcompany interviewed me on the topic of leading indicators and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) last week for his blog. I always find it useful to read someone else's perspective, especially a master strategist like Kaihan. To read his article, click here and choose "The 20-Minute exercise for driving new growth." I hope you enjoy reading Kaihan's blog. It's a strong summary of 4 key points I teach:
- Make critical adjustments earlier rather than later.
- Measure on what you can influence and control.
- Dig deeper… peel the onion by asking lots of questions.
- Define what is "red."
I am often asked for examples of leading indicators that companies can use. Here is how leading indicators are different from results indicators. Most companies in the same industry can use the same results indicators. Leading indicators are dependent on your strategy and your specific habits and operations. Different companies in the same industry should employ different strategies; therefore, their leading indicators may be different.
Here are some tips to get started:
Less Is More
You only receive benefits from using leading indicators if you take action. So do not start with too many. Start with just a couple. Define the action plan you would take when the KPI is either Red or Yellow. It's the action plan that determines if your leading indicator helps you get back on track or not. So don't start with too many. Just start with a couple.
What's Your #1 Issue?
Our clients usually start by working on leading indicators to help improve: 1) Customer service, 2) Service delivery, or 3) Increasing or solving sales opportunities. Everyone's opportunities and issues are different. So what is your number one burning issue? Start with that! Get value immediately rather than developing a complete set of KPIs. Ironically, too many KPIs to start off with might actually distract you from facing and focusing on your #1 issue.
Success criteria. Your KPIs are not complete until you have clear success criteria. What is your process for reviewing, discussing and taking corrective action? Don't be surprised when you need to take action. If life were so perfect in this area, and you had no problems there, don't waste your time. Go measure something else.
If you need a quick review, read 5 Simple Steps to Create Useful KPIs.