In prior columns, I’ve talked about the lack of focus in organizations, which results in an “execution gap,” the gap between setting a goal and achieving it. To close the gap, organizations must practice four disciplines of execution:
- Focus on the wildly important goal.
- Create a compelling scoreboard.
- Translate lofty goals into action.
- Hold everyone accountable all of the time.
In this column, I will explain the second of these.
People play differently when they’re keeping score. Have you ever watched a street game—basketball, hockey, football—when the players were not keeping score? Players tend to do whatever they want, the game stops for a few jokes, and the playing is not very focused. But when they start keeping score, things change. There’s a new intensity. Huddles happen. Plays are improvised. Players adapt quickly to each new challenge.
The same thing happens in a work team. Without crystal-clear measures of success, members of a work team are never sure what the goal truly is. Without measures, the same goal is understood by a hundred different people in a hundred different ways. As a result, team members get off track. They work at an uncertain pace. Motivation flags.
That is why the second discipline of execution is creating a compelling scoreboard. Most work teams have no clear measures of success, nor do they have any way to see how they are doing on their key goals. In a recent xQ study sponsored by FranklinCovey, we asked more than 12,000 American workers about the measures used to track progress toward team goals. (See Figure 1.)
Clearly, only about a third of the respondents can refer to clear, accurate measures to gauge their progress or success on key goals. And only about three in 10 believe that rewards or consequences have anything to do with performance on measurable goals.
Think of the tremendous motivating power of the scoreboard. Strategy depends on it. Plans must adapt to it. Timing must adjust to it. Unless you can see the score, your strategies and plans are simply abstractions.
Your task is to identify key measures for your team goals and transform them into a visible, dynamic scoreboard. This scoreboard should make three things absolutely clear: From what? To what? By when? All team members should be able to see it and watch it change moment by moment, day by day. They should never really take their minds off it.
List your “wildly important goals.”
Create a scoreboard for each one with these elements: the current result, the target result and the deadline. The scoreboard might take the form of a bar graph, a pie chart or a Gantt chart. It might look like a thermometer or a speedometer or a scale. You decide, but make it visible, dynamic and accessible.
Post the scoreboard and ask people to review it every day, as appropriate. Meet over it, discuss it and resolve issues as they come up.
The compelling scoreboard has the effect of keeping score in a street game. All of a sudden, the tempo changes. People work faster, conversations change, and people adapt quickly to new issues. You get to the goal precisely and rapidly.
Stephen R. Covey, Ph.D., is co-founder and vice chairman of FranklinCovey, a leading global professional services firm. Stephen is also the author of the best-selling “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” E-mail Stephen at firstname.lastname@example.org.