If you were in the middle of the ocean, stuck in the doldrums of the equator zone with no wind, no power, no visible landforms you might feel at the mercy of your environment. Skilled navigators, however, know where they start from, know where they want to go and keep track of their speed and direction along the way.
Thinking of your strategic plan as a map to reach your organization’s vision as a destination has the same kind of absolute orientation power. It gives everyone in your organization a destination to reach. The strategic planning process clearly identifies where you are starting from as well. Keeping track of your plan’s speed and direction is the role of the Key Performance Indicator (KPI).
KPIs offer a way to assess the direction and progress of your plan without having to review every single goal and task associated with your larger objectives. In setting your KPIs, identify the top seven to ten goals and associated measures that are most important to your company. All good KPIs will demonstrate the following five characteristics:
- Have target measurements that speak to the desired outcome of the goal.
- Have an easily accessible data source.
- Are able to be incrementally measured in pace with your reporting cycles.
- Will aggregate consistently to demonstrate progress.
- Connect to the health of the bigger picture of your strategy.
Wayfinding with KPIs is your dead reckoning navigational system when the larger strategic journey seems too complex or arduous to be practical. Your chosen KPIs should keep track of your momentum while also staying oriented to the larger intent of your strategic plan.
Our world is not flat or finite. As you move through time, the environment will change and you may need to reassess your KPIs periodically. Using a scorecard built from KPI is the management version of your strategic plan. Each team, department or division should have their own KPIs and scorecards that keep everyone talking about what matters most in your strategic execution.
Hitting your KPI measurements should demonstrate progress in the right direction. With more measures fulfilled you should begin to see your strategy’s larger objectives more within reach, even when the destination is unable to be seen.
How effectively are you tracking your strategy execution?