Building the metrics around what works

A new way to approach winning in business is to take a "gaming" approach to achieving success.

by Knowledge@Wharton
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013
This means establishing the key drivers of success in your business and gearing more energy and attention to achieving those goals. For example, a business school might decide that getting a high score in the Business Week MBA annual rankings is a key determinant of success, as it will encourage the best students to go to your school and this would increase the number of graduates with successful careers which would then boost the reputation of the school further.

This would lead to business schools developing different metrics to guide their efforts and measure success, which might seem strange to their competitors. But if the goal is to win, then this might be the correct approach. In this example, it might put more onus on developing good relations with recruiters (and understanding what they want from graduates) and less emphasis on intellectual output.

The danger is that the metrics could change if Business Week altered its scoring system, for instance. Then having a weaker intellectual reputation could hamper performance. But strategy building is not easy and without risk. The point is to search within the organisation for the key determinants of success and then build metrics around them.

To take another example, a stormwater management division of an engineering firm might discover that developing a good rapport with municipal clients over meeting project milestones and deadlines might be the key success factor.

They may not want to have their projects finished early (as one would logically imagine) as this could interfere with their other plans. What they might want the most is to have regular updates and open discussions with the engineering firm about how things are going. If there is going to be a delay for some reason, they can be informed about it. Engineers are not known for their social skills. But suddenly one can see that hiring engineers who can build a friendly rapport with clients might be the most important factor in winning.

Is your workforce strange enough to guarantee competitive advantage?
Excerpt from a new book by Daniel M. Cable, Change to Strange: Create a great organization by building a strange workforce (Wharton School Publishing)
Knowledge@Wharton, 11 July 2007
Review by Morice Mendoza

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