We are a family of basketball fans, though being only 5’4”, it is not my personal sport of choice (is Pilates a sport?). My teenaged son, on the other hand, eats, drinks, and sleeps basketball (and Fortnite, but that’s another story). I will admit it, I watch basketball so that I can learn from it – so that I will not be an embarrassment to my son as I cheer for him from the stands. I’ve learned a lot about basketball over the years. And recently, basketball taught us all a lesson that can apply to business.
If you are a basketball fan too, you probably saw JR Smith remind the world how important it is to always know the score – and how much you can lose if you don’t. This is a great reminder for the sports world, but it’s also a very important lesson for the business world. Tracking what is important to your success makes sense, but I’ve seen many instances of businesses (and their managers) that are missing the mark. How can you make your business scoreboard a powerful tool for success?
First, know which stats to track.
When Lebron was interviewed after Game 1, he revealed that he had wanted to call a timeout when Smith dribbled out of the paint, but he didn’t know if the Cavaliers had any timeouts left. The game might have ended differently if he had known the answer. In that critical moment, the score wasn’t the only thing that was important. Do you have the information you need in your critical moments to make the game-saving decisions?
You should be tracking the statistics that determine your business’s success or failure. The more control that you as a manager, director, or VP have over a set of statistics should influence how often you review them. In my former role as Treasurer, I looked at cash and debt daily, sales and closings at least weekly, and progress toward debt covenant compliance monthly (it was reported quarterly). For others, customer visits, website hits, or homes started were the stats to watch. Pay closest attention to:
- the factors that you can influence for success and
- the factors that can lead to your failure.
Second, know what you should be tracking against (or toward).
In most sports, you are tracking the score to make sure you have more points than the competition. In your business, what should you be tracking against? Whatever it is, put it on your scoreboard.
- Are you measuring your financial growth over your own results from last quarter or last year?
- Do you have a sales budget to work toward or an expense budget you cannot exceed?
- Are you tasked with selling more of Widget A or less of Widget B?
- Are you trying to break into a new sales territory? Or capture more market share in your current one?
- Is it important to compare yourself to your competition or an industry standard?
There can be so many things to consider. Choose what is most vital to your success.
Third, keep an eye on the scoreboard.
Your scoreboard is going to be in the form of reports. Ideally, your reports should be targeted to address your areas of influence or concern. Your reports should be easy to read and should tell you what you need to know, when you need to know it. If you are in charge of sales, can you really be effective in your job if you wait until a month or (God forbid!) a quarter is over before you see your sales results? If it does not come early and often, it is not the right scoreboard for you. If you must spend valuable time sorting or reformatting a report to make it useful, it is not the right scoreboard for you. If you need to see how a stat is trending over time and must line up several reports across your desk to do it, it is not the right scoreboard for you.
In these instances, you need Blank Page Vision™. On the surface, Blank Page Vision™ is the ability to start with a blank page and design custom reporting to meet your specific information needs. At a deeper level, it is also having the business insight to determine the right questions for your organization today and providing you, as a report user, with answers in the form of actionable information. Blank Page Vision™ is the unique combination of intuitive, analytical, reporting, and communications skills that can be transformational in any organization.
If you aren’t sure what your scoreboard should look like, we can help. At Reporting Dynamics, we utilize our Blank Page Vision™ to conduct targeted analysis, create customized reporting, and facilitate better decision-making. We translate data into profits.