Know Your Numbers

13st 10lb. For over a decade, this was my target weight whilst playing inter county football. First thing every morning, I would step on the scales to check in. It got to the stage that I could tell +/- 1 lb as to what my weight would be before I stepped up.


Why is this relevant you might ask? Well, back then for me knowing my body weight and composition was a key indicator that would impact my performance as a footballer. A KPI. Excess weight was not a midfielder’s friend! Stepping on those scales first thing every morning, maintained a sense of discipline. As a result, my weight rarely fluctuated too far out from target. Either side of the festive season at least.


Nowadays, working with organisations who want to drive performance across their operations, the same logic applies. In short, ‘Know your numbers’. Be clear what are the key measures, which will clearly illustrate and drive performance. It might be tons/day, units/hr or % waste. Safety near misses, new sales leads generated, or total sales won in € or £.


Whatever your KPI’s are, establish targets, and then ensure you have an accurate system to measure them. The communicate them in a way that your team can understand, and as often as is needed. Visually when and where possible. Whether it is on a factory floor whiteboard, or via a PowerBi dashboard, the core principles are the same.


The real value with performance measurement comes with what you do when your numbers are off target. Here is where concepts like Root cause, Corrective actions, and Accountability kick in. Without the commitment and tools to bend the curve back online, performance measures can continue to drift. In my footballing terms, a social weekend would bare its teeth on the Monday morning weigh in. The days that followed would be lean and joyless. However, target state would quickly return!


Unfortunately, my days of seeing 13st on my scales are a rarity. Sitting here this morning, there are a few lbs to be lost when the days lengthen, and temperature rise. Thankfully, I can be less hard on myself nowadays.


However, if you are a business leader, or plant manager, you cannot afford to take a step back. Whether it is a never-ending pandemic, rising energy costs, or chronic skill shortages, the challenges facing business to maintain performance levels and grow are ever present.


Irrespective, the importance of always knowing the key measures that drive your business never lessens.


To finish, I hope your week is ending with strong scores on the door. If not, make sure you have systems in place, and alignment across your teams to bring them quickly back on track. And if like me you are looking to shed your winter excesses, get yourself a good set of scales. The numbers never lie.