Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Keeping track: Less Scoreboard More Dashboard

You have begun your lean journey. Cash flow and capacity have both been steadily improving. People are buying in more and more every day. How do you keep score? Let's look at 3 score keeping scenarios:

1. How many times have you seen this scenario in a basketball game? There is 1:56 left to play in the game. The team that is ahead by 12 points is shooting free throws. How many times have you seen the team that is behind, waiting for the free throw attempt, bent at the waist, nervously tugging on their shorts, and straining their neck to look up at the scoreboard (from the bent over position) with a blank look of desperation on their face.

2. More sports. Does a football team, as part of their weekly preparation for their game on Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Sunday or Monday plan to score 31 points? When the kickoff team huddles before the opening kickoff, do they do a cheer, "31 on 3....1...2...3...31!?

3. Scenario three is you are driving your car down the road and a light goes on telling you you have 25 miles before you will run out of gas? What do you do? What happens when your speedometer reads 90 and you notice a police officer sitting on the side of the road ahead? Does the metric you just read cause you to react?

Conventional score keeping (monthly or worse, quarterly financial summaries) are like driving your car through your rear view mirror. Imagine sitting down at the end of the month to discover you ran out of gas on the 21st of the month? What can you possibly do with that information at the end of the month, or at the end of the quarter (yikes!) Or, what if you discovered at the monthly meeting that you were speeding on the 12th of the month, got pulled over, paid a ticket, your auto insurance went up, etc.? Great time to know. 

In the basketball scenario, the look of desperation in peeking back at the scoreboard is due to the fact the scenarios of winning have become fewer in number. Your team has become very limited regarding what it can do to be successful. A sneak peek at the scoreboard confirms this dwindling sense of hope.

The football team spends each week preparing to play well in all phases of the game. They may work on trapping the defensive tackle as certain situations arise, or figure out how to stop the option, or improving on their punt coverage from last week. Well coached teams concern themselves with executing better, that's all. The score is a by-product of how they execute in all aspects of the game. 

Lean companies need to re-think their score keeping mindset! What 5 things do we need to measure that we know will keep us going smoothly down the highway (the car dashboard), and will ultimately result in a much better score than our opponents. Well coached teams know what is important to measure and can communicate what is important, to every corner of your organization. Anyone can walk into any area, and see up to the minute whether that value stream/department is ahead, behind, needs countermeasures, or a party. Team members need and want to know what a good score is!!! I guarantee that whatever S.M.A.R.T. goals you set, with good coaching, can and will be met.

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