What Gets Measured Gets Done


By Tom Peters

Both of my books, In Search of Excellence and A Passion
for Excellence,
are said to have placed renewed emphasis on the
qualitative aspects of business — for example, on people,
customer satisfaction, nurturing of unruly champions and managing
by wandering around.

While that comment is true, I retain strong vestiges of my
engineering training from 25 years ago and admit to being a
closet quantifier. I think the soundest management advice I’ve
heard is the old saw; “What gets measured gets done.”

My own organization applies this dictum rigorously. Our five-day
executive seminars are organized around a series of “promises”
which demand of our participants practical action in our areas:
customers, innovation, people and leadership. We quantify
wherever possible. Although some of the promises may seem wildly
ambitious, each is thoroughly grounded in observed business
practice, usually in the toughest markets.

In the customer arena, we believe that regular,
quantitative measurement of customer satisfaction provides a much
better lead indicator of future organizational health than does
profitability or market share change. We suggest monthly
measurement. Further, we urge participants to make the level of
customer satisfaction the primary basis for incentive
compensation and annual performance evaluation for virtually
every person at every level in every function throughout the
organization. We also urge every organizational unit in every
function to develop key quality measures. Progress should be
posted on charts in every work space, and a quantitative goal
report should be the first item of business at every staff
meeting, regardless of topic.

Next, we specify that all marketers should be out in the
field, listening to customers, at least 50 percent of the time.
Even manufacturing or operations managers should be out with
customers, listening, at least 15 percent of the time. In a
related vein, each senior manager should habitually call at least
four customers (ultimate users, distributors or major
franchisees) each week from a “top 100” customer list kept in
his, or her, upper desk drawer or wallet.

To enhance competitiveness, companies should join in
partnership, rather than in adversarial relationships, with
suppliers and customers. We ask that 75 percent of important
customer and supplier relations be covered, in the next 18
months, by joint problem-solving teams. The teams are given an
immodest objective of 90 percent reduction in delivery time and
inventory. Finally, we insist that all products and services be
improved constantly by adding ten small “differentiators” to each
product or service every 90 days; for instance, a minor new
feature or new tool for the field service force.

Even innovation can be quantified. Following the lead of
the constantly self-renewing 3M Company, we propose that each
profit center in an organization establish a tough quantitative
target for percentage of revenue stemming from new products and
services introduced in the last 24 months. And we spur
participants to aim for no less than a 75 percent across-the-
board reduction in product development cycle-time in the course
of the next 18 months.

People programs, too, are amenable to quantification.
Far too few firms use profit sharing, gain sharing and other
forms of quality- and productivity-based incentive compensation.
We argue that at least 25 percent of the average, first-line
employees’ compensation should come from such a plan. All people,
in all functions, at all levels should be part of the plan.

Celebrate small successes, we advise. There should be at
least ten celebratory acts each month, no matter how small — for
example, coffee and danish for a project team that completed its
work on schedule.

Minor irritants are major detriments to enhanced performance. Set
the iron-clad objective of erasing at least one dozen “Mickey
Mouse” rules and regulations each 60 days. Reduce the length of
all manuals by 75 percent in the course of the coming calendar

Finally, quantify leadership , for instance, the time you
spend managing by wandering around. First, allow yourself to be
in the office no more than 35 percent of the time, regardless of
your functional area. Hold all your fellow managers to a like
target. Then, quantify your calendar. There is no alternative to
spending at least 40 percent of your time on the single priority
that you wish to be the cornerstone of any major organizational
effort at change — for instance, enhanced customer service.

To get started, modify your calendar at least 15 percent in
the next six weeks. To lock the change into place, conduct a
detailed, quantitative weekly review (perhaps with your peers) of
your progress, as measured by the precise amount of time spent.

Why don’t you plan to quantify ten key areas in the next 30 days?
Even the process of quantification can be quantified.


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