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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Watch out for conflicting KPIs

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Sunday, July 6, 2014 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

This question/situation reminds me of the power-point slide we have all seen where the arrows are going in different directions. Since I’m not there to see it leaves me to make some assumptions because I do not have the ability grasp the situation, get the facts and ask why. At times when I’m at a conference I hear similar stories about lack of “buy-in” or getting the right people on board with my initiatives or desires for improvement. When I’m faced with this situation I always fall back to the essence of what I was taught through experiencing good characteristics of a successful culture. It’s often daunting to explain the entire infrastructure around a successful lean culture (I personally don’t call it “lean” these days but that is what people respond to). When a high level leader such as a CEO has problems getting everyone enthused about change it can be numerous potential causes for the current state to the ideal. I often refer to it as conflicting KPI’s (key performance indicators). As some of my colleagues have mentioned results are often important and some aren’t too concerned as to how people get them (process versus results). When I do an assessment of leading to lagging indicators most (95%) of organizations track lagging business indicators, maybe 2% of what they track are actually leading “predictive” indicators to let them know they need to make change to effect the results. They spend their time reacting to historical data, which is impossible in the present moment, so when each functional area potentially has conflicting “result oriented” indicators then of course the arrows will go in different directions. This unfortunate situation doesn’t allow for vertical and horizontal alignment therefore creating problems/resistance. In some organizations I see quality battles over productivity, if we work harder (not always smarter) we can improve our productivity rates (because we have KPI’s that are driving this based on a needed quarterly result), but our quality begins to suffer because we didn’t utilize a sustainable process to maintain productivity without effecting quality, this happens a lot in a more granular level which can play negatively with morale or the ability to gain buy-in.

I’ve often used two questions to get a finger on the pulse of the morale in an organization. If you ask these questions randomly across different levels and functional areas it gives you a good snapshot of how people feel.

Question 1. – Do you believe this company/organization (insert your company name) has your best interest at heart?

Often I get various answers from “yes I do”, to “meh, its just a job”, to “no, this place is all about results”. So I assess (grasping the situation), and try to determine did the company itself create this by the “aimless arrows”, or do we just have a bad seed here? Believe it or not most people want to do a good job, but they are hindered by badly designed processes and lack of purpose or direction (true north), to ever feel they are a value added member of the company. So I let them vent, talk and express and I ask them if they would let me ask them another question.

Question 2. – Do you come to work everyday with the best interest of the company/organization at heart? (Reversed)!

Well it’s interesting to see their initial responses. The ones who really were negative or down towards the company often break eye contact with me. I’ve done this in sessions before and when its over I’ve actually had a couple of people (who weren’t excited about training) say, “you know you really made me think of that one, I don’t usually come in the door with the best interest of the company at heart”. They go on to tell me why and this is when I suggest we get other leadership together and we all just listen to the people since in reality, they are the most important asset.

When faced with companies similar to what the CEO states they are really wanting the magic formula or an “easy way” to do it all and everyone be “happy”. They often know lean and all its glory can be successful but getting other people to believe it is well– disappointing. So how can you make it engaging? This is a question I ask myself as a sensei every time I go into a company that is struggling. I can’t tell them all the things they should be doing and how because their infrastructure just isn’t prepared to support it.

I try to simplify concepts and give them something that could possibly stick easier than common approach of just telling.

I like to use something I created called GTS6 (to the sixth power) + E3 (to the 3rd power) = DNA GTS6+E3=DNA. This often hits some of the different learning styles in the room and gives a kick start in how they should increase their value as a “servant” leader. How do I know this? I assess each one of my sessions for “key learning’s or take-away’s” and one of the most repeated learning’s is this “formula”. I have others but this may help with this particular question. So what is it you ask?

GTS6 (all leaders should practice this everyday- think of it as “leadership standardized work” simplified).

1. Go to See
2. Grasp the Situation (a. What should be happening? b. What is currently happening? c. What is measurable gap? (to allow you to)
3. Get to Solution (so you can)
4. Get to Standard (so you can)
5. Get to Sustainability (so you can)
6. Get to Stretch (so you can raise the bar and improve-CI)

We do this to allow E3 – Everybody, Everyday, Engaged which slowly develops and creates DNA (Discipline and Accountability for my actions)! I will go out on a limb to say if you can get your leaders to practice each one, starting with first and just engage in dialogue it can begin to bridge to gap in understanding purpose (why am I doing “this”). This whole situation can be slowly altered I believe just by changing actions of people to begin to gain their buy-in and understanding of the true north of the organization. Lean is about developing people to create good sustainable and repeatable processes that give us the “results” we all covet. That was a valuable lesson from my Japanese trainers, almost a secret to us from them that if you focus on your people and their processes then results is outcome. Very simple, just not easy because we tell ourselves we just don’t have time. I will end with a quote from John Wooden I use very often – “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?” @thetoyotagal

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