Developing performance metrics is a critical part of developing accountability as one of the principles of lean planning:
Lean business planning sets clear expectations and then follows up on results. It compares results with expectations. People on a team are held accountable only if management actually does the work of tracking results and communicating them, after the fact, to those responsible.
“Metrics” is my favorite word for performance measurements that you track as part of your regular planning process. They are numbers people can see and compare. Make them explicit as part of your lean plan. Show them to the management team as part of the planning and then show the results again and again during your monthly review meeting. Management often boils down to setting clear expectations and then following up on results. Those expectations are the metrics.
The most obvious metrics are in the financial reports: sales, cost of sales, expenses, and so on. Most people in business understand how assigning specific responsibility for those financial numbers, and managing those numbers closely, builds accountability in a business. Those are classic performance metrics.
However, with good lean planning, you can look for metrics throughout the business, aside from what shows up in the financial reports. For example, marketing is traditionally accountable for levels of expenses in the financials, but also generates metrics on websites, social media, emails, conversions, visits, leads, seminars, advertisements, media placements, and so on. Sales is traditionally responsible for the sales reports in the financials, but there are also calls, visits, presentations, proposals, store traffic, price promotions, and so on. Customer service has calls, problems resolved, and other measures. Finance and accounting have metrics including collection days, payment days, and inventory turnover. Business is full of numbers to manage and track performance. When metrics are built into a plan, and shared with the management team, they generate more accountability and more management.
The illustration here shows the simple metrics for the bicycle store sample lean plan:
Developing the metrics required to bring your people into the planning process is very important. Involve the team in deciding what metrics to use. The people in charge often fail to realize how well the players on the team know their specific functions, and how they should be measured. And the people executing want explicit objective numbers they can track themselves.
Of course the starting expectation numbers alone aren’t enough. For real accountability, management revisits those numbers regularly, to track progress and make people accountable for results. This is a critical part of planning as steering the business and planning as management.