19
Jan
09

Critical time for critical numbers

Every business leader needs to be on his or her game in 2009. The reason is simple: the state of the economy has removed virtually all margin for error. Today, even those little mistakes that in the past you would chalk up as business lessons, can and will cost you dearly. And for all of us, ensuring and protecting cash flow must be front and center in all activities – especially in your daily decision-making.
Identifying and driving key critical numbers are the two best ways to ensure that you and your team are playing your best game. Critical numbers are like laser pointers. You can’t help but focus on them to move them in the right direction. The problem is, too many leaders don’t unleash the power of critical numbers to create a sense of urgency to achieve the best business outcomes possible. Even if you’re using critical numbers now, there is definitely more energy waiting to be unleashed.
Here are some get-it-done strategies to use critical numbers to play your best game:
* Target just a few critical numbers at a time: Attempting to drive a laundry list of critical numbers is a sure way to waste energy and focus. Pick the two or three absolutely key numbers that will make a difference in your business performance. By channeling your team’s energy and focus on driving select critical numbers you create an unstoppable brut force. Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Keep it moving in the right direction.
* Clarify what the numbers mean: Trust me, there are members of your team that won’t get what the critical numbers mean and why it’s vital to move them in the right direction. More importantly, everyone needs to understand what behaviors actually move the numbers. Put the clarity up front and you’ll see positive results sooner rather than later.
* Fix a problem: At least one of your critical numbers should be targeting a problem that needs fixing. If your payroll percentage is too high, make it a critical number. If supply costs are too high, make it a critical number. Heck, if huddle attendance is a problem, make it a critical number.
* Scoreboard the heck out of them: Don’t say you’re on your game in 2009 if you don’t have a scoreboard to track the action. And if you’re not doing huddles around scoreboard updates, the scoreboard will become “invisible” and meaningless to many.
* Change critical numbers as needed: If a current critical number is doing fine and there is another number in your company that needs attention, change it up. It’s just another way to keep the game interesting and to continuously fine-tune performance.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

critical_numbersEvery business leader needs to be on his or her game in 2009. The reason is simple: the state of the economy has removed virtually all margin for error. Today, even those little mistakes that in the past you would chalk up as business lessons, can and will cost you dearly. And for all of us, ensuring and protecting cash flow must be front and center in all activities – especially in your daily decision-making.

Identifying and driving key critical numbers are the two best ways to ensure that you and your team are playing your best game. Critical numbers are like laser pointers. You can’t help but focus on them to move them in the right direction. The problem is, too many leaders don’t unleash the power of critical numbers to create a sense of urgency to achieve the best business outcomes possible. Even if you’re using critical numbers now, there is definitely more energy waiting to be unleashed.

Here are some get-it-done strategies to use critical numbers to play your best game:

  • Target just a few critical numbers at a time: Attempting to drive a laundry list of critical numbers is a sure way to waste energy and focus. Pick the two or three absolutely key numbers that will make a difference in your business performance. By channeling your team’s energy and focus on driving select critical numbers you create an unstoppable brut force. Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Keep it moving in the right direction.
  • Clarify what the numbers mean: Trust me, there are members of your team that won’t get what the critical numbers mean and why it’s vital to move them in the right direction. More importantly, everyone needs to understand what behaviors actually move the numbers. Put the clarity up front and you’ll see positive results sooner rather than later.
  • Fix a problem: At least one of your critical numbers should be targeting a problem that needs fixing. If your payroll percentage is too high, make it a critical number. If supply costs are too high, make it a critical number. Heck, if huddle attendance is a problem, make it a critical number.
  • Scoreboard the heck out of them: Don’t say you’re on your game in 2009 if you don’t have a scoreboard to track the action. And if you’re not doing huddles around scoreboard updates, the scoreboard will become “invisible” and meaningless to many.
  • Change critical numbers as needed: If a current critical number is doing fine and there is another number in your company that needs attention, change it up. It’s just another way to keep the game interesting and to continuously fine-tune performance.

Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.

Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO and author of No-Compromise Leadership

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