My plan was to discuss work process flow charts for my next blog, however events with my new chemo treatment reminded me of the importance that comes with developing priorities and what it’s so critical to have balance in your metrics.
As I indicated they’ve begun new chemotherapy treatments, more aggressive shorter duration type that began on Thursday evening. Friday morning my nurse Brenda came into my room to take inform me that the blood samples she’d taken at 4 AM indicated that my white blood cell count had diminished from 1.1 the previous reading to .2. That she felt was a really good leading indicator that the new chemo treatments were working. The previous treatments had never receded my WBC (white blood cell count) to anything less than a .8. This would indicate the mass of my cells in my bone marrow is receding, and with it hopefully my cancer cells as well.
With this reading comes an opposing alarm. White Blood Cells fight infections. When you tug on one end of a rope and gain ground you lose ground in the other direction. It’s important to recognize that when you set one priority the focus on this can bring with it an opposite effect that may have opposing negative influence on other aspects of the business. Check out Balance Subjectivity & Objectivity – Required Strategic Disciplines to see how Delta Airlines got out of whack by simply focusing on on-time arrival and departures.
Realize when you are setting priorities that putting that much emphasis, especially if it’s your One Thing, will have an equal and opposite effect on another aspect of your business. You must determine how what you are accomplishing in this top area of emphasis could dramatically and perhaps negatively affect your business. Plan to measure what that might be to make sure your efforts to improve don’t eliminate the gains you’ve worked so hard for.
Here’s an example. When Ideal Computer Systems made their first ever quarterly theme about reducing Turnaround Support time from over 55 minutes to less than 24 (they actually achieved ten minutes or less) in the fourth quarter their counterbalancing measure was customer satisfaction as measured by an increased in their NPS score. When they finished the quarter they actually achieved both of their priorities. This was an indication that not only was their support team not picking up and answering calls for speed, they were also taking care of customers concerns and getting them great attention and the answers they were seeking.
Make sure when you set high priorities you recognize the need to set counterbalancing priorities so you don’t end up with part of your business on the ground from the tug of war that exists in achieving what you want. You may have to just spend the following quarter undoing the upset that achieving your top priority achieved.
Okay, next blog I’ll be back to work process flow charts and the Fourth Strategic Discipline.