Metrics Done Right

I love metrics….with a caveat

In a recent missive, I wrote about how important it is to set big long-term goals. It’s hard to accomplish big, scary long-term goals without setting metrics to guide the path. But you have to do metrics right.

Metrics done right are wonderful for letting you and everyone else know whether or not you achieved your accountabilities; whether or not you got the particular job done. Done as in 100% completed by the date you promised.

But metrics set the wrong way are useless, and won’t get you far at all, much less to your big hairy audacious goal.

What do I mean by metrics done right? Let’s take the example of a company whose goal is to open a new restaurant as their next big step in building an international restaurant presence.

First off, metrics need to be developed from the bottom up. They need to include input from those accountable for reaching them. In this case, that would mean having the cooks help set food quality standards and the servers participate in customer service metrics. Too many leaders set metrics unilaterally. Metrics and standards are much more likely to be achieved and followed if they’re developed with the input of those with firsthand knowledge and experience of what needs to be done.

Next, when setting metrics, the meaning of 100% done must be clearly defined. A vague “it will be working much better than it is now” is not meaningful. In the case of our restaurant, a useful metric indicating that something is 100% done might be “The payment system will be installed, tested, and ready to go when the first check is presented.”

It follows that you also need clarity in the “when” something must be done and “who” will do it. Set a specific date for 100% completion of each metric. Make one and only one person accountable for achieving each metric by the time of completion. Shared accountability is no accountability.

Another important step in doing metrics right is to break big things down into parts. “Opening a new restaurant in a year” sounds very nice and exciting but is kind of silly to use as your metric. I like to use 90-day timelines for metrics, since that’s about as far out as most people can wrap their minds around.

For our restaurant, the first 90-day metric might be finding a location and signing a lease. It could also include hiring an architect who in the next 90 days will design the place. While the architect is designing away you can use the second 90 days to find and engage the contractor who is going to build the place over the following 90 days. While the builder is hammering away in the third 90 days you can be finding the perfect tables and chairs and ordering them for delivery soon after the fourth 90 days start.

Stage big activities in bite size chunks.

And once you’ve set your metrics, it’s important for everyone accountable for achieving something to check in regularly and let people know that they’re on track…or that they’ve hit a snag and need some help. And make sure they get that help as soon as possible instead of waiting for the due date and hearing “it’s not done.”

And as you enter the last 90 days, it’s time to get the staff in place and trained so when opening day arrives the diners experience the best meal and service they’ve ever experienced.








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