Friday, May 21, 2010

Show Me the Results

One cultural aspect of American business that is both a driving force and a curse is our obsession with getting results. It does not matter if we are looking at company performance or individual performance. It does not matter if we are looking at strategy, marketing, sales, manufacturing, or finance. Neither does it matter if we look at our lean progress or any other business approach, our business metrics or our stock performance. Bottom line, everything and everyone is rated and evaluated on results and only on results.

Just as in sports, all the matters is the final score, who won. What do we see in the majority of sports headlines…who won, who lost and the score.

For most of us, this is just a fact of life, a given, part of our competitive nature, our culture. I can not argue against results entirely, results are important.

Sometime we can easily quantify the results making them objective. Sometime we can not. Results that are subjective are like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. Despite our efforts to make all results objective and quantifiable, in many cases, subjectivity remains.

Overlooking this problem, we obsess over results. What is our stock price? What were our quarterly financials? Did I hit my quota? What is our 5S audit score? What is our OEE? What is my direct labor costs? Was this project a success? What are each employee’s talent matrix rating? Just tell me the score.

But does this tell us the whole story? Are we focused long-term? Does it reflect the struggle? What about the knowledge gained? Does it matter? What impact will it have on our future? What was the cost of our success? Were there any negative consequences in getting our results? Do we care?

In our obsession with results, do we actually miss something, perhaps something greater?

1 comment:

Karen Wilhelm said...

Nevertheless, if the "language" spoken by senior management or finance, people who will decide OK or not, and who need to be brought into the fold, you need to speak to them in that language until they see reason to listen to more of our language. Trying to explain why we appreciate improvement in our own lean context may be just noise to them.