The GET FIGURES method is 10 step process to take you from your initial strategic objectives through to a set of working measures. It’s a bit painful fitting the steps to a memorable acronym, but it does make it a bit easier to remember. Here’s what each letter of the acronym stands for:
Gantt the roll out
Roll it out
Every day use
So here’s a rundown on each of the steps:
Goal - All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved. Sun Tzu
What strategic objective are you trying to achieve? Without a really clear (and precise) understanding we are trying to achieve all further effort is wasted. This is why “Goal” is the first step in the process. If you don’t have a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve, you are doomed to failure. If you can clearly articulate your goals (hint: there really shouldn’t be more than half a dozen of them) then you are ready to go onto the next step.
End story - I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. Bill Cosby
What needs to “go right” to achieve your goals? This is all about understanding what the drivers are on your organisation. The basic principle is “Unless you can understand and link activities and outcomes to your strategic objectives, you cannot expect to meet those objectives. Put even more simply – “If you don’t know what to do to achieve success, don’t expect to succeed”
The number one weapon for linking strategy to activity is the “Success Map”. I’ll be posting a blog on these really soon.
Test - No, we don’t cheat. And even if we did, I’d never tell you. Tommy Lasorda
Can you make those measures “go right” and still fail to meet your strategic objective?
I used to play a lot of board games when I was a child. Monopoly is a game that most people have played several times in their lives. It’s a simple game, but how many times have you heard people contest the rules – when it works in their favour, broker deals with opposing players and plain cheat? I have two points I’m making here:
1) People push the limits to achieve personal gain. “No shit Sherlock!” I hear you say. The think is, the more personally rests on the outcome, the more people will bend the rules.
2) People cheat. A mistake I see often is thinking that you can craft a set of measures and rules that will deal with poor culture. You can’t. What you can do is create a set of measures and rules that undermine and help destroy a good culture – beware!
Example: A large financial services organisation gets the “six sigma bug” and decides to start measuring their “sigma score”. In practice this means that “colleagues” check each other’s work. Striving for “world class” performance the organisation decides the appraisal outcomes and bonuses will be linked to achieving a 99.7% quality score. For some of the low-volume more complex transactions this means that a single mistake will lead to the loss of bonus. These checks are administered by colleagues from the same team – also known as “friends”. Faced with the prospect of your friend losing their entire annual bonus because of a single mistake, what would you do? They simply pass the work back across the desk, make sure the mistake is corrected and tick the box. The overall quality score said they were indeed “world class”, however their complaints data said different…..
Even if people play by the rules, worthwhile activity can have unexpected consequences.
Fine details - We think in generalities, but we live in detail. Alfred North Whitehead
Cascade your measures down to an operational set of KPIs. Work on the basis that if you don’t “nail it down” then it will probably go wrong or not work out as planned.
Identify best - Seek simplicity but distrust it. Alfred North Whitehead
Choose the best measures from those you have identified. Top of the list are those measures that have the biggest impact on your strategic objectives. Then it’s a tussle based on impact, reliability and ease of collection. Remember that landing a killer measure or KPI that your competitor hasn’t can be a real extra weapon in the armoury, so don’t just write-off hard-to-measure things.
Gantt the roll out - Adventure is just bad planning. Roald Amundsen
Create a detailed project plan, showing what will be implemented when and identifying how to get buy-in
Understand feedback - However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. Winston Churchill
Try out your plan an measures on those who will be using them and listen to their thoughts and feedback
Roll it out - Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often. Mark Twain
Roll it out! It’s all been pointless unless you get on and implement it.
Every day use - It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you use that makes a difference. Zig Ziglar
Live with the measures, encourage people to log and feedback problems, queries and room for improvement
Scrutinise - Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error. Marcus Tullius Cicero
Sit down and formally review the new measures with all the key stakeholders – time for everyone to be really honest. The thing that really marks out a successful and transformational management control system and a so-so one is this process of honest review and revision.
If you are doing this properly you will go through this whole cycle more than once and will probably jump back and forth through the steps a few times as well. The key is never to lost sight of why you are doing this. Always ask yourself the question “What are we trying to achieve here?”.