Why Status Criteria Matter

By Barry Pruitt

Imagine – you’re at the Super Bowl and suddenly the score changed. It was in favor of your favorite team so you are, of course, pleased. But since there was no action on the field, you wonder how are they keeping score? How does your team gain points?

Now, take that mental picture into a team meeting. There it is again, a (score) status of yellow - yet there are no status criteria. Week in and week out your team member is posting progress on a scoreboard with no rules and no measurable Red-Yellow-Green success criteria - just a gut feel. They are posting a status of yellow with no measurable idea of what a super green, green, or red would be. This may sound facetious, yet I often see this with undisciplined teams - and sometimes with teams who are new to the Think-Plan-Do Rhythm methodology. Those that succeed in working through this type of status reporting can look back and laugh at where they started as they focus on making weekly adjustments the norm – but those who tolerate this type of status discipline have consistently failed. That’s why status criteria matters. Measurable criteria can make or break your team or your business.

To accurately set status criteria, ask yourself, "What do I want this to do when complete?” Answering this question will often lead you to good criteria. To further explain, let’s use an example priority: Determine What Can Be Exported/Imported from New Database. Having no status criteria for this priority will likely lead to longer meeting discussions, disagreement at end of quarter, and lower morale. Meanwhile, team members would continue to work hard yet never feel the real success of crossing the goal line, hearing the crowd roar, and watching the point total grow on your team scoreboard.

It’s not hard to imagine statements like, “I did determine what can be imported/exported from the new database.” And then the reply, “Great, but you haven’t solved importing/exporting the data where we found limitations or obstacles.” And so the conversation goes … on and on ad nauseam. Status criteria matters and to succeed, you need clear, focused criteria for all priorities and KPIs. The sooner you resolve this, the faster your team can grow stronger.

To further the example above, Determine What Can Be Exported/Imported from New Database, imagine that your team member Charlie is the owner. Charlie would then would ask himself the question, "What do I want this to do when complete?” 

Answers may include:

1. Determine critical info that must be imported/exported to determine priority order of effort

2. Determine the data tables that info will be imported/exported from

3. Determine whether the database will have limitations in importing/exporting data

4. Discover if we need outside consultants to migrate data

5. Determine what additional database modules will need to be purchased to meet our needs

6. To close business books within 5 business days of month end  

7. To satisfy bank requirements for line of credit

8. Create a single view of merged company data/financials

Don’t get hung up on whether the right answer is on my list. Instead, recognize that each of the above answers does not restate the due date (in our Rhythm platform and our One-Page Strategic Plan document, there is a place for the date). In this case the answers lead you in a different direction for measurement of success. Asking the “5-whys” to get to the correct answer to this question will ultimately lead you to your best status criteria for measurement.

Continuing with our example, pretend that Charlie determined his right answer to the question "What do I want this to do when complete?” is #6 above, "To close business books within 5 business days of month end." After some “why, why, why” questions, Charlie may determine that GREEN criteria is books closed and taxes filed within 5 days. RED might be "Books not closed within 10 days from end of month" or "10 business days." When Charlie statuses weekly toward this criteria, it will be measurable, and therefore clear for team discussion. It will shorten conversations on the topic and, when adjustments are necessary, the conversations may now be focused on solutions.

Our village of coaches offer Rhythm clients a perspective on setting status criteria, and you can use a similar approach to succeed on your own. When your team practices this 5-whys approach to questioning one another’s status criteria for clarity and measurability, you’ll start scoring regularly. And after all, that’s why we play the game, to score. And that’s why status criteria matters.  



Barry Pruitt


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