Key Performance Indicators: Wayfinding for Strategic Planners

Jun 07, 2012

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?



What is 6 + 15 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
All fields are required.

Free Guides & Resources

OKRs that work
Setting OKRs that Work

A FREE downloadable guide and canvas to build Objectives and Key Results.

SWOT Assessment Guide

A FREE downloadable guide and canvas to complete a SWOT analysis, synthesize it into Competitive Advantages, and then use your SWOT to create SMART goals.

Guide to Create KPIs with 100 Example Metrics

A FREE downloadable guide to learn the basics of Key Performance Indicators with 100 example metric sources for ever department of your organization.

Free Guide for Writing Better SMART Goals

Download the FREE guide to learn how to create goals that have impact in your organization.

Growth Strategy
Free Guide to Build a Growth Strategy

A FREE downloadable guide and canvas to create a growth strategy that clearly defines where you play and how you’ll win.

Goals and OKR Cycle
Goals/OKR Cycle Guide

A FREE downloadable guide and canvas to establish a quarterly rhythm for OKRs and Goals.

OKR Essentials
OKR Essentials Cheat Sheet

Download the free cheat sheet to guide you through building and refreshing OKRs.

Join 50,000 Other Leaders Engaged in Transforming Their Organizations

Subscrbe to get the latest agile strategy best practices, free guides, case studies, and videos in your inbox every other week.

We Believe in Empowering Teams to do Amazing
Work, Consistently and Passionately

Success isn’t a list of flashy logos. It’s about helping anyone who wants to lead a great organization.
If that’s you, join our list of clients – you’re in good company:

Armen EZR Multnomah RHA SEO Monitor
Chobani Cisco Armen KIA Patagonia
Concordia College Davenport Fairbanks St. John's Washoe County School District
Boys and Girls Club BSA Cancer Society Maryland Food Bank Make A Wish
CMPD Long Beach San Francisco City of Sparks Washoe County