Tips and stories to add value to you and your organisation
Do you like numbers? Do you have a favourite number? Mine is lucky 7 …probably a common choice. Maybe I should upgrade it to lucky number …er… 37? 29?
Can a number be lucky? Perhaps we should consult a lottery winner…I’m sure they think they are!
However, whether they are lucky or not, numbers surround us, guide us and rule us.
Speed limits, free gigabytes of download capacity, tax percentages, calories eaten and steps walked.
I don’t remember having so many numbers in my life as a child. Life seemed easier then, when my favourite number was 3, because that was the number of books I could borrow each Saturday from the local library. Three books…heady stuff!
That was back before the internet and the rise of smartphones. Useful things, but creators of more numbers in our lives than we really need.
Business loves numbers too. One persistent and annoying number in business is the month end sales total.
On the face of it, it makes sense to track what is despatched each month, pegged against a target.
The problem is though that this can drive poor organisational behaviour. People work to meet the target, rather than working for the best interests of the business.
I worked with a client a few weeks ago who was shipping the wrong mix of products in order to meet their sales targets. The right mix would have kept more customers happy, been easier to pack and ship, but would have meant the sales target would not have been met.
Which in turn meant that bonus payments to staff would not have happened.
People work to the measurement.
If the measure encourages them to perform in a certain way they will rise to the challenge. A bonus option just cements in the problem, reduces flexibility and curtails thinking.
As the saying goes… if you measure me stupid then I will act stupid.
A better solution to the month end dive for the finish line is to report output as it happens and measure it against a 3 month target.
This allows for monthly variations and removes the cliff edge of a final week of rushing to get things out of the door, or in the post.
In the world of Lean process improvement a useful measure is On Time In Full.
If this is a high number then we have happy customers. They don’t care about our sales targets, they simply want their products as per their requirements.
How many useful measures do you have in your organisation?
How much time and effort is wasted through measures that are meant well, but drive disruption and poor use of resources?
Maybe it’s time for us all to take a fresh look at the numbers in our business and audit their usefulness. Perhaps some of them are not so lucky!
Next week: Growing Up Or Growing Down?
Somewhere, out in the galaxy, there are 6 books, written by me and based on 30 years of experience. Online, in good bookshops, in second hand bookshops, on people’s shelves and so on. They are…
1. My Boss is a Bastard …about how to survive a miserable time at work. It’s pithy, it’s fun and it’s useful.
2. Leave the Bastards Behind …about how to set ourselves up in business. Overcome sales and marketing scares with this easy guide. It also makes finance more understandable too.
3. Job Hunting 3.0 …everything we need to know to get a job (including a handy chapter about how to thrive in an assessment centre, which is something people often forget to learn about).
4. How to Keep Your Job …tips and insights to thrive at work. Find out how good your organisational effectiveness is and what you can do to enhance your performance.
5. Bouncing Back …how to keep your chin up, find energy and be resilient in the face of career adversity.
6. Riding the Rocket …the thinking person’s guide to their modern career. Great for people who are a bit stuck, or need guidance and won’t listen to mum and dad!
The books are great and I’m proud of the ideas and practical tips I’ve put into them. It’s amazing to see how they all travel through the outer reaches of the universe and land in front of people who need them.
And in case you’re thinking, oh Richard that’s a sneaky self book plug you’re doing here, well you’d be right. Except it’s blatant, rather than sneaky!
The reason is simple. We all forget what we have achieved. Our busy lives push us forwards and we can overlook our successes and what we have put into the world.
We can all celebrate ourselves from time to time, we can all toot a tune on our own trumpet of success.
I was reminded of my own success through LinkedIn last week, when a contact wrote to say thank you. She was so pleased that three of the books had crossed her path, helped her to get back on track and sort out her career. She was a happy Romanian!
I reposted her comments, with grateful thanks, and this was picked up by another 180 people. A lovely thank you, from her to me, that was shared widely. Perhaps encouraging other people to take care of themselves.
Such is the joy of the social media world, promoting good things and reaching people who need support.
I don’t mind if people don’t buy my books, I always say that, because I hope that people buy at least one book (any book) that speaks to them. There are millions out there and all books can have value to at least one person.
It’s also great to acknowledge thanks when we get it. Modesty has a place in the world and yet if we are too self-effacing then we can miss an opportunity to support other people.
Books are great and we can all find one or two to help us become a happy Romanian! (As we say on the radio, other nationalities are available).
Have fun this week and enjoy all the hearty thanks that land in your direction!
Next week: Measure Me Stupid!
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Brilliant ways to increase performance, stay employed and keep the money rolling in
Published 2011 Marshall Cavendish
Secrets and skills to sell yourself effectively in the Modern Age
Published 2010 Marshall Cavendish
An insider's guide to working for yourself
Published 2007 Cyan Books and Marshall Cavendish