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High Performance Results : A Game of Inches

Measure, Adapt, Follow Through and sometimes go with your gut.

In the 1999 movie, Any Given Sunday, Coach Tony D’Amato, played by Al Pacino, gives a pre-game locker room speech to his football team. In the speech he explained that life, as well as football is a “game of inches.” Progress is made one inch at a time. The same can be said for business; it’s the consistent forward momentum over time that produces results. In your business, as in sports, measuring your progress, quickly adapting to a changing environment and following through are key drivers to your business success.

Measuring Progress: What gets measured gets done, right? Not always.

Gauging your business progress and its’ results is critical. When we measure, we can gain a clearer perspective of our business, the path we are taking, the business road under our feet and more importantly, the one that lay ahead.

Measuring, in a simple form, is tracking your business performance. Measuring will give you the data you need to answer important performance based questions, examples of which may be; what are the numbers and are we meeting established benchmarks, how are we improving customer loyalty, what are the successful pricing points in this region, how are employees reacting to change?

Tracking your performance should be measured across business processes (i.e. Management Process, Operations Process, and Support Process), as well as down to product, customer, employee, cost center, region, sales team and project.

One way to help gauge and track your business performance is by defining and implementing Key Performance Indicators or KPI. KPI is critical in evaluating the current state of your business, helpful in determining trends and forecasting future results. Your KPI will span your business processes and will measure the most important aspects of each.  These measures can be taken and analyzed as often as deemed appropriate. Some KPI’s should be measured daily, such as those within your Sales Process.

One problem, however, with measuring results, is that, from time to time, business managers get so caught up in these numbers, and the performance aspect that they begin to micro-manage every detail, department and person to an unbearable level. Micro-managing can be detrimental to the organization. It can lower morale and can impede overall and individual performance.

Adapt:  Not everything will go according to plan.

Adaptability and flexibility are key factors to forward momentum and success. Executives have to be willing to modify and even pull out of initiatives completely as circumstances dictate.

While measuring progress, even the best of strategies can show weakness and appear to have initially been wrong. The divergence in the desired results versus actual results may be attributed to poor forecasting or assumptions, a changing market, in the execution, in the interpretation of KPI or a combination thereof. It’s how you interpret the incoming data and act upon it that makes the difference.

Follow Through: Many times it’s the rebound that produces

As in sports, the first shot doesn’t always go in. So follow through. In business, persistence too pays off. Measure your KPI; interpret the trends, forecast direction and the road ahead. There is almost nothing worse than having the data in hand and doing nothing with it.

Gut instinct: And if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Sometimes, above all else, using your gut instinct is what will make the difference between success and failure, between winning and losing. Just make sure that sixth sense is backed up with data and validates your position.

Don Sedy 2010

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