Have you ever seen that movie scene where the wizened old cowboy tames the impossibly wild stallion? The wise frontiersman takes his time, careful not to frighten the horse, and gradually shows it what he expects. He uses a soft voice and doesn’t ask too much at first. Once he has established trust, it isn’t long before he hops on the stallion and lets it do what it wants to do naturally: gallop into the sunset.
There is a metrics lesson in this scene.
If you have successfully defined and tracked a few critical metrics for your business, you’ve made admirable progress towards life as a metrics-driven organizations. However, without specific goals for these metrics, you can’t create the optimum focus and accountability. You’ve got your peanut butter, but no chocolate…
Don’t be daunted by the task of getting executives to agree on target levels of performance. It will come naturally if you approach the problem with patience.
First, invest the time and energy to socialize your success metrics. The challenge is to offer a clear definition of what is being measured and demonstrate its importance. Do not initiate discussions about goals at this point. You will probably be dealing with a jittery cast of characters—no sudden movements or loud noises.
Second, introduce the success metrics into periodic meetings and other venues. You want these metrics to become part of the organizational vernacular. Again, have patience in getting people accustomed to the metrics and their implications about the business
Now here is the wonderous part: having built a foundation of awareness and understanding, you can reasonably expect people to start coming to you wondering why there aren’t goals associated with the success metrics. In all likelihood, they’ll ask this question as if you hadn’t thought of the concept. Resist temptation and let it be their idea.
Soon you will be conducting meetings to define reasonable yet aggressive goals for your metrics.