Welcome to the twelveth article of our Entrepreneurial Wednesdays series. In this series, I share my thoughts on lean entrepreneurship as I take my first steps in my journey. I will be sharing my lessons learned with you.
I hope you still have in mind what has already been discussed. Especially when it comes to metrics. Did you think I told you enough about it? Come on! It is time to talk about A Metrics. Letter A stands for actionable, accessible and auditable which are very important and helpful when you find yourself in a bad situation and need to clarify what causes it.
Keep it clear…
Let’s start with ACTIONABLE. What does it even mean? Well, metrics are not only numbers and lines. They carry a message. A message of the reality depicted in numbers and lines. But metrics can only have value when they are demonstrated by concrete cause and impact of what they show. To understand these two is extremely necessary in order to not to get lost. It is the knowledge of connecting what the metrics show and the state of the company in reality that does the magic. But when you do not know what causes the numbers to go either high or low and you do not have a clue what will happen to the project based on these numbers….things can go horribly wrong! Broad metrics (the ones that do not REALLY show you what is going on and why is it happening) can do a huge damage to the environment you work in. When the numbers go higher, people have the tendency to feel like they and only they have done the work. What if there are many departments in the company? Maybe the marketers did a fine job or were it, developers? And when the numbers are low, who is there to blame? Both of the groups? Or rather none ? The point here is to not to only know what causes what, but the art of how to effectively provide the information.
You do not really want to blame anyone. On the other hand, giving the information as a lecture to your staff and having an open-minded approach towards bringing bad news can have surprising results (f.e. in South Korea, employees are used to delivering bad news late in the afternoon or never, how about that?).
What’s more, the metrics should be highly ACCESSIBLE. As I mentioned before, the message is the most important part of metrics. Sometimes the message is completed and on the road to the managers and staff, it is misinterpreted. This means it is hard to understand, simple as that. Many CEOs or managers of teams or owners think that delivering a message is not enough. They feel that in order to be heard by their employees or colleagues they have to formulate it very formally. Which is a good thing if you have an audience which you do not know and you are standing on a stage at a conference. But other than that, please, make your messages easy to understand. I know this sounds weird and you ask yourself how hard it can be? Even on a daily basis, when you are trying to say something you are trying to be simple. There is no need to sound like a doctor when you are running a business!
Last but not least, make sure the metrics are AUDITABLE. Has it ever happened to you? That you got a report from your teammates with bad numbers and you, well, kind of, didn’t believe your eyes ?! Working so hard, following the methods that used to work before and now this? It might be the problem of how you work or there was a mistake made in the process of creating the report. Which obviously makes the report unreliable. During the whole Entrepreneurial Wednesdays series, I have mentioned validation more than enough. And here it goes again!
How to actually make metrics audible? Simply. When you can test them. How ? By a simple phone call to a few customers or companies which give you feedback. What I am trying to say is that you should keep only the information from first hand. You do not want to get other agencies to take care of the feedback or numbers of sales or costs. Once the flow of unreliable data starts, it keeps on coming and it will definitely destroy the mentality of the staff. When you are not sure about some numbers, just keep people who are reliable for them (mostly customers) close to you so that it is easy to contact them and check if the metrics show the REAL outcome. As the book itself says: ”Managers should have the chance to discuss data with real customers”.
That’s all for this week, BUT! Let me know what you think about metrics and how do you handle them in your company. Also, there will be a new series of articles coming out soon. It will be big, full of content and exclusively for you!
Until then, take care.