Do you and your stakeholders actually agree on which numbers are important?
To start with, in order for me to tell you all about meaningful metrics, I need to tell you about my son Leopold.
Here's a picture of him:
As you can see, he's a very happy boy. However you can also see that he's got some prongs in his nose for oxygen. Leopold was born three months early with chronic lung disease.
He was only 663 grams, so about the size of a bottle of Coke.
Now, how do you monitor such a tiny baby? Well, Leopold got his own dashboard.
We've got three things on this dashboard:
One - he's got his oxygen rate, which needs to be above 90,
Two - he's got his heart rate,
Three - he has his own trend line for his oxygen.
So, if you step away from this dashboard, you can actually see how he's been doing over the last few minutes.
Leopold spent eight months in hospital and then he came home while still on oxygen. At home, he was on oxygen for another seven months or so. It’s important to realise that in our house, a lot of things could now happen.
If that machine, if his stats, his oxygen stats, drop below 90, the machine would beep.Leopold is also on a feeding machine, and if that runs out of formula, it beeps.
Knowing what is most important
For a long time, Leopold liked to puke on himself about five or six times a day. We also have a dog, so if anybody comes to the front door, the dog goes mental.
By now you can imagine the state of our house - with things happening all at once: the dashboard's beeping, his food machine's beeping, he's puking on himself and the dog is losing his tiny little mind over nothing.
Naturally, the bottom line in our house became: does Leopold have oxygen?
Because the dog can go mad, he can run out of food or he can puke on himself. Those things aren't actually life threatening. But if he doesn't have oxygen, he's not going to survive.
So naturally it became the bottom line: does Leopold have oxygen?
Everything else can wait.
Being on the same page as your stakeholders
When I'm giving keynote talks, I always like to ask the people: do you and your stakeholders agree on what numbers are important? This is where you notice who actually puts up their hand.
I was over in New Zealand on a talk and one lady put up her hand, so I said: “what's your secret?” She says, “well, I work for myself”. Ba-dum-dum-tsh. I mean that's probably cheating.
But it's a very important question to ask. So the next time you're having a meeting with your stakeholders, ask them: do we actually agree on what numbers are important?
This is necessary because if you know what is important, you can drive the business in the right direction. If you're measuring the wrong thing then not really going to help, is it?
Just to touch back on Leopold briefly, because people always ask, ‘how is he doing now?’ Well, he's doing absolutely fantastic. He's off his oxygen and he's gone from strength to strength.
As a dad, I'd like to think that I've done what I can for him; I've given him a really strong name. Leopold Rupert Cameron hyphen Sweeney. He's either going to be a CEO or a wanker.
To finish off with, ask yourself the question: do you and your stakeholders agree on which numbers are important?