One frequently repeated leadership adage is, “to get what you want, measure it.” The premise is that if you have a particular goal you want to reach (higher profit margin, more donors, weight loss, etc.), you need to measure your progress in reaching the goal. WRONG! You only get what you want if you measure the right things.
For example, if you want to lose ten pounds—which I do—you will never lose ten pounds by simply measuring your weight every day. To lose weight, you need to eat less (portion control) and better (less sugar, less starch, less fat), and exercise more. So the right things to track are what and how much are you eating, and how often are you exercising.
My tracking system is an X for every time I eat something counter to my goal (yesterday was a 2X day because I had Mexican for dinner), and a √ for every time I exercise, knowing that if I have more √s than Xs, I will take off the pounds. I record the √s and Xs every day; I record my weight only once every ten days. So far this year it’s working. I have more √s than Xs and have lost about five pounds.
So, to get what you want, first, measure the things that produce the results, not just the result itself.
Second, to get what you want, have a plan. My lose-weight plan is to exercise at least six days a week and to follow every X day with a no X day. That means since I blew it yesterday, today has to be a no X day. So it’s going to be fruit for lunch and salad for dinner.
Finally, accountability is a big deal. My lose-weight accountability is a chart on the refrigerator that shows my √s, Xs and weight every ten days. In effect, Dottie (my wife) is my accountability partner because she can see how I am doing. If I get off track, she is too kind to say anything, but she doesn’t need to. The very fact that she can see it is all the accountability I need.
In your business, church, life and so on, to get what you want you:
#1 – Measure and track the things that drive results, not just the results alone. Very little is ever accomplished by focusing on the outcome instead of the drivers for the outcome.
#2 – Have a plan. Very little is ever accomplished by happenstance.
#3 – Have someone accountable for the results. Very little is ever accomplished when accountability is fuzzy.
Is there something you want to accomplish, but haven’t made much progress? Try putting these three things in place. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.
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© Copyright 2012 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner