The Eight Keys to Execution, part 6
How are you measuring progress? Are you measuring the right things? The old adage “what gets measured, gets done” rings true here. So, what are your key performance indicators? Are they aligned with your priorities? Will they alert you early in the process (as in a “leading” indicator) or late in the process (a “lagging” indicator) that something needs attention? Having an effective set of measures is the fifth key to execution.
Consider the chart shown here. I’ve often called this an organization’s “backbone.” Do you have curvature of the spine, or is there strong alignment from vision to objectives to services. Second, how well do your measures evaluate these elements from top to bottom, or wherever your responsibilities lie? Are they helping you maintain a straight backbone?
Measures communicate progress, or a lack thereof, against identified goals. Measures also communicate what we think is important. One of Pursuant’s clients commented that they were embarrassed that we had to tell them about the decline they were experiencing in major donors and major gifts over the last several years. His statement reflected that they had taken their eye off of something absolutely critical to their organization. They are not alone. We routinely tell clients about trends in giving at all levels, trends in donor engagement, revenue projections based on current trends, and so forth—and information the client wasn’t aware of prior to our engagement.
We also measure fundraising and organizational best practices. The existence of certain practices tells us something about how well our clients are attracting donors, engaging them in their work, and building long-term, fruitful relationships over time. It tells us of their fundraising and organizational strengths and weaknesses. Great strategy starts with an effective evaluation process.
Your problem may not be having a set of measures, but that your measures are too difficult to assemble. The best measures in the world, if it is overly difficult to assemble what is needed to calculate it, isn’t going to help. Find a simpler way to measure what you are trying to track.
Once action plans are in place, we have to measure progress and determine if what we are accomplishing is doing what we had hoped. We may have a shiny new resource center, but if n0 one is being served by it, what have we accomplished? Measurement requires that we courageously look at the data and draw observations and conclusions that will drive further strategy and action, or help us get our execution priorities back on track.
Once you have a commitment to measure, it is amazing how quickly leadership can drive attention to key performance indicators. Pursuant’s CEO Trent Ricker recently asked our management team to include a section on key performance indicators as part of their weekly reports. Why? He wants everyone to keep their eye on identified priorities, and he wants to make sure regular progress is being made in the right areas. For those who aren’t sure what key performance indicators to track, requests like this prompt important conversations.
What measures are you using that point to progress being made against your strategic initiatives? How balanced are your measures? Are they all focused on one area, or are they all lagging indicators? How quickly would you know if an initiative was not producing a desired result?