Want to win? You should keep Score!

During a break in a meeting this past week, a proud father was talking about how much he has enjoyed following his now high school age son’s wrestling career.  One of the life lessons it taught his son from a very young age is there’s always a final score and it matters. There’s a winner and a loser after each match. And, if you have ever attended a kid’s Wrestling Tournament, you’ll know this means one young wrestler often ends up in tears and the other is smiling. And of course, the score matters!

Win or lose from a very young age his son was learning the value of always knowing the score and if you aren’t keeping track of your score, you’ll never know how well you’re doing.  The irony in all this was when the break was over that same proud father began reviewing numbers his business segment was tracking.  He was keeping score, and the scorecard clearly showed where they were winning and, in some cases, losing. But as he was presenting the message was clear, you need to know the score and the score matters.

Most businesses have several metrics they track. Some will argue you can never have too much data, which in theory is true, but often businesses can get so hyper-focused on it, it can almost be detrimental to the outcome they are ultimately trying to achieve; selling more of the product or service their business provides. Probably the best answer is, as long as it’s providing valuable real-time (or close to real-time) information, it is worth tracking. In business these are often referred to as a scorecard.

One of the challenges with a scorecard is they often are spreadsheets full of data and the numbers that “matter the most” are lost in the complexity of the spreadsheet.  In recent years there have a been some great tools developed that allow you to extract data from your business system and develop scorecards with data that is easy for your team to follow. See below.

If you’re just getting started with a scorecard, start simple, ask your team the “what matters most?” question and start keeping score of just a few items. You’ll find there is no shortage of things to measure. Just try to make sure what you’re tracking is really impacting the bottom line of your business.

To make it easier and more interesting for your team to follow, try creating a scorecard that tells the story of the numbers in as few words as possible and as few numbers as possible. And again, thanks to software, creating scorecards no longer must be complicated.

Here’s several easy-to-use examples to help you get started…

If you’re looking for more advanced ways of slicing up your data, you may consider…

What makes a lot of the newer data analytics software so attractive to use is that there is very little, if any coding involved. It is simply manipulating your data and letting the software do the work. 

When you’re creating scorecards with data, what is critical for their success and effectiveness is keeping the information up to date as possible. If you’re incorporating it into your employee’s dashboard it is useless if the information is not kept current. You really want to be careful about the information you’re challenging your team to reference on a scorecard.  

For example, I’ve seen monitors in businesses showing information that is outdated, that is not motivating the team to do more if the posted information is positive, but the current “real-time” data is negative!  When, how, and what data is shared on a scorecard should instantly let the person viewing it know if they are winning or losing…very similar to the message that young wrestler learned at a very early age; the score matters! 

What about you and your business? Have you had success in keeping score with your business? What did you measure? Do you have a favorite tool for creating scorecards? Have you every attended a kid’s Wrestling Tournament?  As always, if you have any comments or questions, we would love to hear them in the space below.

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach