There are a myriad of variables and factors which affect your ability to achieve your objectives. Deciphering this complexity to determine what is important to measure is critical for driving improvements and change.
As with many aspects of your business there can literally be dozens and dozens of different metrics. The same is true in sports. So if you are trying to drive breakthrough results in your company or win on the field how do you determine what is important to measure?
Results Metrics and Contributing Factor Metrics
In sports there are usually a lot of different statistics that are tracked and measured. Statistics measure the performance of individuals and teams in every conceivable way and in every conceivable circumstance. But the only statistic that truly matters is whether the team wins. Even the number of goals scored in somewhat immaterial; the team can still win with a low score.
And you may have a great player on your team with fantastic individual performance in their own statistics. But if the team isn't winning you are still not achieving your true objective.
The distinction here is that the number of wins in sports, for instance, is the true end result that is desired. This is the high level objective and this is the Results metric. Every other metric is subordinate to the Results metric.
Separately there are Contributing Factor metrics. The individual team member statistics are examples of these. These are metrics which you must track because they are key variables which impact your ability to achieve your Results metric targets. While Contributing Factor metric target attainment is important, it is not the real result you are after. But by extension if you have great performance in your Contributing Factor metrics this theoretically increases your chances of having a higher number of team wins and hitting your Results metric.
It is similarly most important in business to differentiate the metrics which you are going to track. Particularly as you are leading a business and driving for game changing improvements. You need to know and communicate what metrics represent the true end Result you are looking to achieve and what metrics represent the variables or Contributing Factors which need to be addressed to enable achievement of the end Result.
There should be relatively few Results metrics. Hitting, or exceeding, the targets for the Results metrics is ALL that is important when all is said and done. You could hit the targets for many Contributing Factor metrics but miss your Results metric targets entirely. While great work may have gone on you still did not achieve your main results.
For instance you may have the objective of improving Employee Morale, as measured by some survey mechanism. Employee Morale is your Results metric. Underneath that there may be a lot of different Contributing Factor metrics such as Employee Suggestion response rate, Exit Interview issue resolution, Benefits plan issues, etc. A lot of work can go in to improving these Contributing Factor metrics, which is necessary and important. But at the end of the day the success of all of these initiatives combined will be measured by the singular Results metric of overall Employee Morale.
This applies to any part of your business and any area that you are trying to improve. Often people can do a great job at achieving Contributing Factor metric targets, but if the company misses the Results metrics all of that great work will be overshadowed by the shortcoming.
A Single Goal is your Results Metric!
As discussed in prior blog posts a key factor in driving game changing results is to ensure that you have a "Single Goal" that is widely recognized. That is the Results metric!
Otherwise if you communicated to people that you wanted to drive improvements across dozens of metrics and all are equally important you will find that your efforts are diluted and your results will fall far short of expectations. There will be confusion. Some Contributing Factor metric targets will be met and others will be missed. Everyone will think they've done their best regardless. And you will miss your overall Result metric entirely.
It is also important to distinguish that the Results metrics in one area can be the Contributing Factor metrics in another area. For instance if you have a company with multiple facilities you will have Profit objectives at the company level and Profit objectives from each facility. The Profit objective at one facility is the Results metric from the perspective of that facility. However at the company level the Profit objective of that facility is a Contributing Factor metric towards the company-wide Profit Results metric. And that company-wide Profit is all that is important at the end of the day.
The nuance here which is critical to understand is that if you are unable to achieve targets on some Contributing Factors then you still have the flexibility and opportunity to drive over attainment on other Contributing Factors. In short you can still achieve your overall Results metric target.
If one facility is falling short of their own Profit objective then you can look to other facilities to exceed their own Profit objectives thereby still enabling attainment of the company Profit Result metric.
If one of your team players is struggling with their performance you still have the rest of the team to help compensate. And you can still win and hit your overall team objective.
Both Results metrics AND Contributing Factor metrics are important. One enables attainment of the other. But only your overall Results metric is important.
Shareholders first and foremost will look to the overall performance results to discern whether a company met its objectives. They will certainly look underneath to the performance of various business units or geographies or channels as well. And this will inform areas for discussion and further improvement. But in all cases the intent will be to improve the Results metric for the OVERALL company.
I have seen many instances wherein Managers get confused on what they are measuring and what is important. They are honestly trying to drive improvements but they fail to make the distinction between the true end Results metric and the Contributing factor metrics. As a result they are unable to achieve the full potential change they are looking to drive.
And having a Results metric can be a rallying point for your employees. They too can be confused by the dozens of metrics that flash by their eyes every day. But if you can communicate and focus the organization on a Single goal, a single Result metric, then you can rally employees to your objective and increase your chances of truly getting Game Changing Results!