Famed writer, management consultant, and Professor Peter F. Drucker is quoted as saying “What’s measured improves”. There is evidence of this statement all around us. Whether in our personal lives or in business if we are serious about improvement, we first must measure. We need to understand where we are at!
Don’t be misled into thinking that “Of course I know where I am at!” Do you? Understanding the factors that have contributed to your current state is the foundation on which improvement can be built. To really identify and know the key factors can be a process, and if not previously identified, that process can take time. This process of evaluation and thorough understanding forces us to both reflect on where we are at, and allows us to ascertain where we wish to be.
One of the common traps that we can become ensnared with is a wish or hope to improve without a willingness to do what it takes for that improvement. I love this definition of insanity; Doing the same things over and over with the expectation of different results. Do you ever find your collectors hoping for more money or responsibility without doing anything different? What about your teams, or even perhaps your business?
For real improvement we must commit to doing things differently. However, the act of changing the way we do things doesn’t necessarily ensure that we will be better off than when we started. I submit that identifying those specific areas that we want to improve upon, and committing to change that positively affects those metrics, is a good place to start.
Take a simple example from a third party agency where they decide that they need to increase collections. Most know how they are doing and can even compare that to the previous month or year. The challenge and opportunity is presented when we try and dig a little deeper and a whole world of metrics and information is available to us to analyze. These underlying metrics are the wheels that progress needs in order to move forward. The more of these hidden metrics that are uncovered, the more opportunity a business has to progress.
In the Disney movie “Alice in Wonderland”, Alice finds herself at a cross roads and asks the Cheshire cat which way to go. The cat responds by asking Alice where she wants to go, to which Alice responds that it really doesn’t matter. The cat then replies that it really doesn’t matter which road you take.
We are often in our teams or companies at crossroads of decision and direction. Without knowing where we are at it becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible to know which path will lead us to our destination. Metaphorically speaking, we are Alice asking which way we should go.
As we begin the 2nd quarter of 2016 and review the start of a new year, let us take stalk of where we are at and commit to measuring the metrics that will most contribute to our success. For what’s measured… improves!