For the KPI projects that did deliver I noticed the following common characteristics.
- They committed a complete and thorough exercise to ascertain their organizations’ critical success factors (CSFs) and then ensured that all measures used by the organization relate back to the CSFs[i]. It is the CSFs, and the performance measures within them, that link daily activities to the organization’s strategies.
- There was an understanding that meaningful performance measures are found in the operations (Gemba) and not in head office. There was a close linkage between the KPI team and operations as the team members had been sourced from there.
- The CEO was always talking about the latest management book they had read. If Jack Welch found time to read when he was running his large empire, then we all can find the time to read a chapter or two, three times a week.
- They had groomed an in-house expert in performance measurement. These people were quiet achievers, finishers of the highest order, who were well respected within the organization.
- A wide commitment and involvement from the oracles in the business, the wise owls that everybody refers to when they need answers.
- They had a longer-term view on the project and the investment to make the KPI project team full time on the project.
- The KPI projects were run entirely in-house, without the need for consultants roaming around the halls of power, looking for their next assignment.
- An environment where they piloted each performance measure before its wide scale use, thus enhancing its chance of success. Implementing measures without this testing is at best naïve, and at worst, incompetent.
- There was a mass abandonment of existing measures, with the retention of only those that did work
Recommended next steps for KPI team leaders
- Complete my checklist “Are you ready for a KPI project”.