Great Scorecards Answer a Simple Question

One of the most important things we help leadership teams do is build great scorecards.  Just as in golf, a scorecard tells a big story in a small space.  By looking at your golf scorecard you can quickly see how you played a round, where you did well and where you struggled.  By adding up the numbers on the card, you know whether or not you played up to your expectations.

In business, though, we want a scorecard to do more. We don’t just want to know how we did, we want to know how we are going to do. Are we going to hit our sales targets?  Will our customers be happy?  Can we pay bonuses at the end of the year?  Can we afford to purchase a new machine?

I see a lot of company scorecards, and most of them don’t have any predictive value at all.  More often than not, the scorecards I see track revenue, sales closed, widgets produced, performance relative to budget….things like that.  Of course these things aren’t important, but my challenge to you is to build a simple scorecard with just a few numbers that answers a simple question…

Did my team have a damn good week last week?  The things that you measure to answer that question become your scorecard.

Too often scorecards are bloated reports providing pages of cryptic data, much of which people can’t decipher or don’t know why it’s important.  But a great scorecard evaluates whether you actually did those critical few things that you know ultimately lead to success.  These activities that you measure weekly are the inputs that will drive the future outputs you’re responsible for.

Here’s the classic example.  Ask a lousy sales manager in March whether his team is on track to hit their collective goals and the likely answer is something along the lines of “how in the hell should I know….it’s only March!”  But ask a great sales leader early in the year whether they will achieve their annual goals and they will immediately know whether the team has generated a sufficient number of outbound calls, proposals, meetings, presentations, and other drivers that the sales leader knows will eventually lead to sales.  The great sales leader can measure every week whether his team did the work necessary to have confidence that their goals will be met.

This doesn’t just work for sales.  Think about your departmental processes. What are the major milestones or steps in a process then ask yourself which of those you could measure to increase your confidence that you’ll get the future results you want?  It won’t be easy, but it’s worth it.

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