I always find it interesting that as a company we go through planning processes each year but then fail to support the implementation and wind up scratching our heads as to why we didn’t reach our objectives. Each year we develop or update our strategic plan. We develop budgets for the coming year. We spend countless hours planning our future, what we want it to look like and developing strategies to get us there. And then we put them in a binder (or file folder) and shelve them until next year when we review them in preparation for the planning process again.
There are many reasons that these game changing plans get shelved. We become absorbed in the day to day activities and don’t act on strategies. Or we may have budgeting processes that don’t actually include the strategic plan. But one of the biggest reasons is that we don’t ensure the metrics that we define and use to monitor our business truly reflect this new strategy that will propel us into the future we have envisioned.
We are likely still using the same dashboards and metrics that we defined many years ago. Once we develop our dashboards and analytical solutions we tend to forget that they may not be forever. Hopefully they reflected the strategy of the day when they were created but now they may no longer be relevant. They therefore should have a sunset just the same as our strategic plan does.
We understand the need to refresh our strategic plan annually but we don’t do the same for the very thing that is used to measure its success. Instead we continue to use the key performance indicators of the past and wonder why we are not achieving our goals from the current strategy. The obvious disconnect is that we plan annually but we don’t change what we are going to use as a map to get there. How do we know if we are achieving our plan if the metrics that we use to guide our business haven’t been updated to reflect our new plan?
I've written in the past about my thoughts on creating custom KPIs and how the KPIs that we use to measure our business drive the behaviour of our employees and therefore our organizations results. So if you are using metrics from several years ago and they don’t reflect the strategies that you are planning to implement to drive your company into the future, you shouldn’t be surprised when you don’t achieve your strategic objectives.
Do your organization a favour (and your career) and add “update of the metrics and dashboards” to your annual planning processes to ensure you are positioned to reap the rewards of your plan.