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Step to Accountability – Define Key Results

Posted by Douglas Wick on Mon, Aug 16, 2021

Jay Samit Difference between Succesful and Unsuccessful - Excuse“The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is successful ones know the most unprofitable thing ever manufactured is an excuse.”

~ Disrupt You! by Jay Samit

One of my customers spent 3 hours last week in a meeting with his peers reviewing 150 different metrics for his company. He struggled to understand how he could provide insights from them to his leadership team

I have been reading Propeller: Accelerating Change by Getting Accountability Right, by Tanner Corbridge, Jared Jones, Craig Hickman, Tom Smith, and shared Chapter Two, KEY RESULTS Defining and Achieving What Matters Most, which includes a story much like his, where the CEO of Boston Medical Center is asked for her company’s key results.

The CEO had about 80 plus metrics her team tracked, and after the consulting group interviewed most of her leaders, discover her team could only recall 3-5 of the 80 plus measures.

After sharing this with the CEO, she embraced the idea to focus on three to five major outcomes that define success for the entire medical center.

Propeller - Accelerating Change by Getting Accountability RightA year later she shared her new philosophy around Key Results: “It’s really quite simple. You need to choose them wisely, distribute them widely, focus on them relentlessly, and measure your progress toward them all the time. That’s the only way to take accountability for the results you need.”

Too many measures cloud accountability.


Creating accountability begins with clearly defining results. Clearly defined and well-understood results are those select, few deliverables that every individual in the organization is aligned around and committed to achieving, no matter his or her role, function, department, or geographical location. Propeller refers to these select, few deliverables as Key Results. Ideally, Key Results should be limited to three to five meaningful, measurable, and memorable outcomes.

Without such clarity and specificity, alignment suffers, and accountability is marginalized throughout the organization.

Meaningful: Key Results are so important that every individual employed by the organization must be able to connect his or her day-to-day work with each and every key result. For example, a 3 percent increase in profit margin as a Key Result would be meaningful if every single employee were able to connect his or her individual impact on that Key Result every single day through priority setting and decision making. Sometimes the linkage to the Key Result is indirect, but making the link is critical. If an organization had a Key Result of 5 percent revenue growth, someone working in a front-line HR role would need to understand how the business practices they employ can better align with and support the delivery of that Key Result.3Ms- Meaningful, Measureable, Memorable

Measurable: Each Key Result should be captured and framed by a single category, metric, and target. While most categories will never find the perfect single metric, committing to and then leading an entire organization to hit one less-than-perfect metric and target is more effective than committing to and leading an entire organization in pursuit of some fifteen metrics for each respective category. In the example above, the profit margin is the category, the percentage increase is the metric, and 3 percent increase for the year is the target.

Memorable: First and foremost, there should be no more than three to five Key Results. Additionally, when the Key Results are captured in a single-word label or simple phrase, people in the organization pay more attention and remember. The fewer the words, the stickier and more memorable the result. The authors’ Fortune 1000 client used three numbers to capture the organization’s three Key Results: 5/10/1. The 5 represented the desired percentage of top-line revenue growth, 10 represented the desired percentage of bottom-line profit growth, and 1 percent represented the desired percentage of total manufacturing cost reduction. Tens of thousands of employees used those three numbers to guide their actions and decisions every single business day of the calendar year.

CLARITYAbove the Line

Below the LineClarity around Key Results allows every individual in the organization to clearly identify “My Impact” on the Key Results. It also drastically reduces the amount of time people spend debating priorities and resource allocation. Key Results provide a common lens for individuals and teams. Clarity around Key Results helps propel people to rise above their circumstances, overcome obstacles, breakthrough cross-functional boundaries, and continually ask, “What else can I (we) do?” until they deliver what matters most.

Would your organization benefit from your team continually asking, “What else can I (we) do?”

To create an environment where everyone is inspired to give their best, contact us today to schedule a free exploratory meeting.

Growth demands Strategic Discipline.

Disciplined People Thought Action Chapter06-01-1Building an enduring great organization requires disciplined people, disciplined thought, disciplined action, superior results, producing a distinctive impact in the world.

Discipline sustains momentum, over a long period of time, laying the foundations for lasting endurance.

3 Disciplines of Execution (Strategic Discipline)-1A winning habit starts with 3 Strategic DisciplinesPriorityMetrics, and Meeting Rhythms.   Forecasting, accountability, individual, and team performance improve dramatically.

Meeting Rhythms achieve a disciplined focus on performance metrics to drive growth.

Let Positioning Systems help your business achieve these outcomes on the Four most Important Decisions your business faces:












Positioning Systems helps mid-sized ($5M - $250M) business Scale-UP. We align your business to focus on Your One Thing! Contact to Scale Up your business! Take our Four Decisions Needs Assessment to discover how your business measures against other Scaled Up companies. We’ll contact you.

Accountability Cant be Expected of others Until Above the LineNEXT BLOG – Change What Needs to be Changed – SEE IT

To fully “See It” you need to be hungry for perspectives you don’t already have, you must be able to face reality, and you must be willing to acknowledge you don’t have all the answers. Maybe that’s what this step to accountability is challenging. We’ll explore how to SEE IT to develop accountability next blog.

Topics: business clarity, Clarity, OKR - Objectives and Key Results, Propeller, Accelerate Change by Getting Accountability Right

Challenges of Scaling Up a Business 







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1. Priorities: Determine your #1 Priority. Achieve measurable progress in 90 days.

2. Metrics: Develop measurable Key Performance Indicators. 

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Certified Gazelles Coach

Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

- Priorities
- Metrics
- Meeting Rhythms

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