Metrics That Matter: Measuring Progress and Achieving Strategic Objectives

Image of people looking at analytics and metrics on a computer screen with the title "Metrics That Matter" over the top of it with the Next Level partners logo.

Business leaders and functional managers are required to achieve key performance indicators (KPIs) that track progress toward plan or budget goals. These goals can be revenue targets, operational metrics, or profitability measures. Leaders strive to be “green” on their KPI metrics, achieving results above the stated goal.

Remember the Strategy Deployment Process (SDP) and its three key elements? The bowling chart lists key metrics and measures the monthly progress made in implementing the new breakthrough processes created in the action plans. It provides a visual representation of the organization’s advancement and helps identify areas where adjustments or improvements may be necessary. By color-coding progress towards goals with red (behind goal) and green (ahead of goal), progress is visually displayed in a single visual.

But what happens when results go “red” and the business is falling short of plan?

Lean Principles for Problem-Solving

When the strategy execution process is not delivering the desired outcome, a root cause problem solving approach and a countermeasure plan is required. More specifically, if the gap between desired state (Target) and current state (Actual) has a high impact to stakeholders AND there is a desire to fix the problem permanently/sustainably, then it is recommended to follow the steps below.

Whether you are a strategic initiative owner, functional manager leading departments, or value stream process owner, you can use Lean principles to:

  • Learn the skills for understanding causal relationships in business problems
  • Gather and analyze data for fact-based decision making
  • Identifying root causes vs problem symptoms
  • Create countermeasures that solve problems and keep them from reoccurring

Root Cause Analysis

When explaining the gap between Plan and current performance, always describe the gap in a fact-based way. Collect data from reports, observe operational steps in the current process, talk to associates who are closest to the work. By “going to Gemba”, we define the problem in a detailed manner so we can set about to solving the problem and keep it from reoccurring.

Lean principles deployed in problem solving include 5-Why analysis, Pareto analysis, input-output diagrams and flow charting. Each of these approaches can lead teams towards a better understanding of the root causes of the problem.

Countermeasure Plan

Countermeasure Plan or Sheet (see Figure 1) is the primary tool to leverage a root cause problem-solving approach and then brainstorm and track countermeasures. Some companies use the A3 Problem Solving Process which is also an excellent tool to communicate the root causes of the problem and the action plan for improvement. No matter which tool used, developing a practical, actionable action plan is essential to gaining traction in the corrective solution.

Countermeasure Sheet
Figure 1

Root cause and countermeasure problem solving is not always in a manager’s toolset. Training by experienced Practitioners can provide the right guidance and support to help teams solve thorny business problems. Leaders can accelerate the performance of their teams by bringing this type of Lean training to their associates.

Putting Root Cause Problem Solving to Work

As metrics underscore progress and KPIs drive the path forward, the journey isn’t always a smooth sail. When the seas turn ‘red,’ and targets seem elusive, the Lean principles for problem-solving take center stage. Root cause analysis becomes the lighthouse, guiding businesses toward sustainable solutions. The Countermeasure Plan becomes the compass, aiding in the navigation of complex challenges. By embracing these methodologies, enterprises can not only weather the storms but also chart a course toward lasting success. Still have questions? Reach out to us today.

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