Wash, Rinse, and Repeat!
Ask Great Questions to Build and Use a Scorecard …
Then Make a Great Week Happen Over and Over Again
When leaders ask me how they should use scorecards and KPIs within their businesses, I ask them to envision an exceptional week in each function. And I then ask “What happened during the week to make it so?”
For example, if I were a manufacturing leader thinking about operations and I asked my direct reports this question, I might hear answers like:
- We had almost zero rework.
- Our wastage was extremely low.
- Our downtime on machine x was minimal.
- The shrink-wrap machine didn’t get hung up like it usually does.
- We started all shifts on time.
- We didn’t have to work overtime because of screwups.
- We met our production schedule to the T.
Answers like these should come pouring out of their heads because each is key to having a great week. And they can measure these, sometimes in a system and sometimes with just hash marks on a whiteboard. They can establish goals for the week in advance for each measured activity and track progress. What’s more, these weekly measurements will provide three valuable outcomes:
- The team will have a strong pulse on manufacturing performance. They can act quickly if something is off track.
- Team members can better predict longer-term operational and financial performance.
- They will build a higher level of accountability among the people who are running the factory.
Therefore, rather than impose a scorecard for a specific team, I love to help them blossom one from the team’s fertile collective mind and aspirations. This approach produces a high level of ownership and works in any function of the business.
For example, a software company’s leadership team called me and asked, “How in the heck are we supposed to build a scorecard for the developers in our firm? Can this really work? Will you help us with this?” I then invested 90 minutes with about 15 developers at the firm. I opened the session by asking, “If you leave the office on Friday afternoon, drive home, and with a huge smile on your face say to your spouse as you walk in the door, ‘I just had the most fantastic, wonderful week!’ — What would have happened that week to cause that reaction?”
I remember distinctly a few answers:
- “I didn’t get interrupted in the middle of a development loop by having to go to some useless meeting!”
- “I learned something new that will help me in my job and in the future.”
- “The product team and I collaborated so smartly to figure out a tough solution that can be replicated again and again in the future to help our clients.”
Moreover, I asked the developers’ boss who was sitting quietly in the back of the room. “Could you measure these as they walk out the door on Fridays? How would your business change if every week your developers had a ‘great week’ as described today?” His answer was quick and positive:
“We would be amazingly better than we are today!”
Finally, I suggested to the business leader he would be smart to start measuring the things that really made a difference for his sharp software development team. Makes sense, no?
So, go have a great week and measure what made it so!