I love sayings, maxims, bromides, quotes and all sorts of things like that … whatever you might want to call them. When one really grabs me, I’ll print it out on a notecard and tack it onto the cork board in my office. I especially like the ones that make me think, that help keep me on track or that inspire me in some way.
One I’ve heard for a long time but only recently added to the board is “What gets measured gets done.”
Did I mention that the shorter these nuggets are, the better I tend to like them and the truer and more valuable they seem? Well … yeah.
In doing my due diligence on “What gets measured gets done,” it seems there’s some question or controversy about who said it first … or said it in those words. It may be as old as 500 years or as new as 50. Either way, it’s a great line, a great concept and a great reminder.
Too often we set goals without also setting a meaningful way to measure them.
“We need to increase sales!”
“Let’s improve on the time it takes us to get to retail.”
“I need to cut overhead.”
To get results in any of these areas, you must first know where you are, decide where you want or need to be and then measure your progress in getting there. What worked? What didn’t? Why?
I’m often amazed and horrified at how many retailers or manufacturers will say something like those quotes above but then be unable to answer a simple question.
What are your sales goals? “Well, we need to set those.”
What’s the average length of time it takes you to go from concept to sales? “Well, a lot depends on product line … but I’m sure we need to be faster!”
What costs have risen the most in recent years? “Umm, I’ll have to check on that.”
I am not making any of this up. I’ve had each of those conversations in the past three months with different industry professionals.
In each case, my response to their response was the same:
What gets measured gets done.
Those are five words that can change your approach to almost any problem and get you headed in the right direction.
I can’t imagine that anyone reading this is perfectly content with his or her business. What needs improvement? How can you quantify or measure it? How will you track it? Who’s responsibility will it be to maintain the log with the relevant quantities, dates or whatever it is you’re measuring? When and how often will you check to see if you’re making progress? How will you know? What’s your goal? Is it reasonable? Does everyone know and understand the goal? Have they bought into it? Are they clear on responsibilities to make it happen?
I truly believe that what gets measured gets done … and not just because of the measurement — which is critical — but also because it requires a level of commitment and execution.
As for me, unfortunately the thing that I need to measure most is calories. Luckily, my wife is ready to help with that.