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Do You Like The Numbers?

When reviewing the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of a business it can be uncomfortable for many people.

When you are faced with the numbers of your business, in 'black and white', it might not tell you what you want to hear.

Over the last three months or so I have been involved in more and more conversations with clients about how they don't like their numbers. Instead of using this information to re-direct efforts in the business their KPIs have become something that gets ignored.

There is a clear distinction to make here; there is a difference between outcomes and results.

KPIs are, for the most part, just results. They are only outcomes (i.e. you have failed) if you choose to make them into outcomes.

Results guide us. If you use the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) cycle then you accept the results as feedback. This feedback then allows you to change tack and try something different.

Numbers can be our friends, if we work with them. If you find yourself ignoring your KPIs and just hoping that your on time delivery performance / sales targets / customer satisfaction levels (or whatever is important to you) will improve, then I ask you to look again.

Use the results to guide your business improvements and watch the results change. Then, when the time is right, you can determine your perspective on the results and declare an outcome. From a personal point of view I like to work with the results until they are really good and declare the outcome to be a success. Keep working with the PDCA cycle until you have gotten to where you want to be also.

Now, go and embrace your numbers!


Giles Johnston
Author of 'Business Process Re-Engineering', a practical plan to improve business performance.