The most pervasive cause of organizational under-performance is lack of focus and drifting attention. Without a narrow focus on specific behaviors that will transform results, leaders invariably fall into a responsive-reaction orientation at work. This orientation fuels the wandering attention that compromises results.

In our portfolio companies, I begin by helping leaders identify the “one thing” compromising their team’s effectiveness. From there, our exploration turns to creating the conditions for the “one thing” to occur. When leaders narrow their focus to key behaviors, they unlock the most rapid improvements in results.

Below you will find examples for the upcoming quarter. The clarity these leaders achieved will support meaningfully improved performances. These measures are also tracked in the weekly team meetings to create accountability for week-to-week improvements.

Sales Example

This example is best read from the bottom-up. Notice how the elements focus on growing the number of conversations with potential new relationships. Identifying and then growing this outbound behavior represent the choice to escape “playing it safe” busywork (i.e., anything activity that is not a business-building conversation).

  1. Daily prospecting lists enable sellers to move prospecting calls without delay between calls.
  2. Appointments secured and successful discovery calls result in samples and requests for proposals.
  3. Some proposals convert to new relationships, which drives the lag measure of bookings growth. 

Lag MeasureBookings Growth
Lead MeasureNew samples/proposal generated (function of the quality of their conversations)
Lead MeasureAppointments secured from prospecting calls (function of skill cultivating curiosity)
Lead Measure50 prospect calls/seller/week (time spent actively creating opportunities and possibilities)
Lead Measure1 hour weekly preparing Monday through Friday prospect call lists (preparing to call without distraction)

Production Floor Example

In this manufacturing environment, the quantity of “Lines Run” is the key to growing Production Revenue. This team needs to improve their planning and coordination from scheduling to pre-stage/staging of components to changeovers completed by assigned deadlines, etc. Once a work order begins production, making high-quality decisions when things go wrong and having a sense of urgency to get back to targeted production levels becomes the priority. Consistent Top of Hour inspection drives better plans for winning each hour of the shift.

Lag MeasureProduction Revenue Growth
Lead MeasureDaily Lines Run (requires improved planning and cross-team coordination)
Lead MeasureEfficiency (a function of quality decisions within shifts, including escalation discipline and urgency to resolve issues)
Lead MeasureTop of Hour Inspections (hourly PDSA + tasking performers)

With this clarity, the leaders can now separate what matters from the ever-present distractions and firefighting that threaten to compromise their time, energy, and attention.

If you are working hard but not seeing performance improvements from your team every week, it could be that you are investing your attention in the wrong things. When you maximize time unlocking improvements in your lead measures, your scorecard elements will improve.

As a leader, you are either letting lead measures dominate your focus or are not. 

Stay on the edge!

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