Running a successful business is much like an NFL Team. The successful team has its “A” player but the focus is not on superstar efforts. The team has a game plan and the methodology to succeed. When we look at the teams that just move the ball down the field play after play and appearing impossible to stop it is impressive. Performing in all factions of the game, defense, offense and special teams, is the only way to sustain a victory week after week. When all the factions of the team meet their objectives, they find themselves winning it all.
So what does that have to do with business? It is the same philosophy that is required to sustain success week after week. Business cannot jump to react to different metrics each week or month. Many businesses will sometimes look at sales and EBIT with little regard for quality and the costs associated with bad quality. Business will then react to an analysis that states the cost of quality is too high and place multiple assets in place to rectify those conditions. Then a metric will be reported that there is excessive inventory cost. Again, some businesses will react to those metrics and put teams in place to burn down that poor metric. This is the problem with management by objectives. Many times, people will manipulate the data so that the metric gets better without improving the system that is creating those metrics.
The businesses that will be the most successful set a vision on efficiency improvement and waste reduction. They will have a multi-faceted plan that will be built around a production or a service system that will assure all long and short term objectives are met and they will measure themselves to that plan. Metrics are merely a report card and a business should not react in haste to attain their goals. If you examine your current state, create a vision of what success look like, and then create a strategic plan that supports that vision, you will succeed. The metrics will tell you if you are executing to plan, whether your plan should change (because of continued poor performance) or whether it is only a short term deficit to the entire plan’s execution. We continually attempt to exceed each prior month’s performance but in reality that could create “knee jerk” reactions that destroy your long term strategic plan. Don’t discard the metrics but look into them to see if you are observing a short term effect of doing the correct plan execution. If your short comings are a result of a temporary complication to your strategy, don’t over-react. Examine the plan to see if it is executing properly and then make small adjustments to assure that a trend does not develop.
Finally, always keep a pulse on your employees and their opinions. We tend to think that we as management have the answers but many times the answers are in the minds of our employees. Always pursue an engaged workforce and treat their issues as a priority. Assure there are no ethical gaps in your organization and communicate with employees continuously. Never forget to reward employees for their actions and outstanding performance and thank them for doing their best.