Awareness Test

Focusing on the financial numbers related to increasing revenue, cutting expenses and improving the bottom line are important metrics related to running a successful business. But as an owner, executive or manager have you ever felt that you might be missing something? Hey, I’m the first to admit that when I was running Porter & Associates the first report that I would review each and every morning was the number of hours we billed the previous day. And at the end of each month I’d quickly turn to the page in my report that showed the month’s income (after payroll and indirect expenses). Then, I’d jump to the page that listed the agency’s current assets and current liabilities. If only the video, below, had been available back then!

So how is lack of awareness affecting your ability to effectively run your department or business? In large part, awareness is a function of where an individual places his/her attention or focus. For example, not too long ago my wife and I purchased a Toyota RAV4. Frankly, before Susan made the suggestion I’d never noticed them on the road; but guess what happened the moment she mentioned the name? And now, as we drive our shiny new car around town, I swear I can eye-ball a RAV4 that’s 20 blocks away! But because I’m so focused, I’m really not looking for anything else; therefore I’m missing a lot of all the other stuff that’s happening on the streets (on the outside chance my insurance agent is reading this, I’ve had no accidents so far).

So, for example, if your company’s differentiation strategy is to be “customer centric”, and if you’re only using the information provided in financial statements as a metric of how well you are achieving that goal – what can you do to ensure that you don’t miss something you’re not looking for?

Based upon my experience, in addition to the reports you currently review, you should expand your perspective and awareness by analyzing the company’s return on its most important assets: Return-On-Customer (customer share-of-wallet, customer loyalty, customer complaints); Return-On-Employee (employee say/do ratio, employee engagement, employee turn-over); Return-On-Vendor (vendor say/do ratio, vendor survey); and Return-On-Brand (premium pricing, culture audit, marketing research).

Like the moon walking bear, it’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for … unless you shift your attention. What customer centric metrics should your company pay attention to?

4 Responses to “Awareness Test”

  1. Dorothy Ramsey says:

    This was awesome! I even played it again to be sure the bear was in the first one!

  2. Ben Stone says:

    Some very solid points Tom – It’s almost always something that isn’t even on our current radar that ends up consuming our efforts. It’s important to broaden the scope of our attention as you suggest, but to me the lesson is also to instill and define a very clear mission/brand promise (aren’t they the same?) so that when the moonwalking bear tries to derail our efforts, we have a solid foundation to focus our response. If the mission is alive and ingrained and there is a concerted effort to look in the nooks and crannies for the unexpected, you can’t loose.

    You and I have drilled down into the concept of Return-On-Employee and I really think that those metrics can foretell many Moonwalking Bears for most companies. Employees are rich in information if you are willing to invest the time to listen.

    Take Care – and thanks for the insights

  3. Heather Rast says:

    It seems pretty obvious that drawing from a breadth of resources would better inform decision-making. Yet I agree with your suggestion that often times, as creatures of habit, we fall into patterns of accessing the same info from the same sources and processing new numbers in the same way. That may be sufficient for awhile, but like trying to draw a really long line using a 12″ ruler, at some point things go askew and you don’t notice it until you take a big step back and observe. IMO, this is one of the best reasons for collaboration between a team of leaders, each with their own specialty and background, providing input and feedback into decision making.

  4. I saw the bear–but I get your point!

    I heard one of the simplest but most profound statements about this concept from George Barna:

    “You get what you measure.”

    So it’s important you are measuring the right thing.

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