Want to stay in business? Keep your job? No matter your performance improvement specialty, it’s helpful to know if your strategies and projects are making things better for your organization.
Define Success Early. The best way to ensure that we can measure whether we succeeded or not is to figure out what we’re trying to accomplish before a project starts. For example:
- Start by describing the problem we’re trying to solve (or the opportunity we’re trying to capture). For example:
- Help new sales reps to make sales sooner
- Reduce workplace violence
- Reduce order cycle time
- Then answer the question, “How will we know we’ve solved this problem/taken advantage of this opportunity?” Here are some possibilities:
- Reduce time to first sale from X weeks to X minus 2 weeks.
- Six months after the intervention, reports of workplace violence will be reduced by XX% or better.
- Three months after migrating to new order fulfillment software, time from order to cash will be reduced by X%.
Ask Questions to Define Success. Toward the beginning of a project, I ask my clients questions, for example: “If this project is successful, what will be different? How will we know we were successful?”
Sometimes I get an answer something like, “They’ll be able to use the new software.” I keep asking questions until we settle on something that’s good for the business, for example: “We’ll be able to process orders faster.” Or maybe, “Customers will receive their orders sooner.”
A Note About Goals. In for-profit businesses, we usually want to accomplish goals that are related to one or more of the occasionally overlapping objectives below:
- Increase profits
- Improve productivity
- Improve customer satisfaction
- Earn customer loyalty
- Improve quality
- Operate with integrity
- Offer the right products and services at the right time and price for the market
- Improve employee flexibility and resiliency (adaptation to change)
- Improve employee engagement
- Reduce waste
- Reduce unwanted employee turnover
- Give back to our communities
Obviously, organizations each define their own goals. Government, military, nonprofit, and healthcare organizations will have some of the same goals, and some that are different.
Our clients may feel that an information campaign, training program, or organization shuffle will make things better. As performance improvement professionals, it’s our job to work with the client to articulate the goals we’re trying to fulfill for the organization. At the same time, we should figure out how we will measure success.
When we can show that our efforts are helping to achieve organizational goals, then great things happen:
- We make things better
- We feel great out it
- Our organization feels great about us
- We earn our keep