Vantage Point
Vantage Point is a quarterly newsletter designed to help organizations
improve performance through strategic planning and executive consulting.
Planning FAQs
Measuring Effort vs Result

In recent years, many tools have been developed and implemented by organizations in an effort to better manage their performance. These tools include benchmarking, balanced scorecard, and dashboard indicators. Like any powerful tool, they must be used correctly to achieve the desired results and avoid serious injury. The most common error made with these tools is measuring the wrong things. There is a tendency to measure what is easy rather than what is important. This leads to a focus on measures of effort rather than results because efforts are very tangible. Things like clients served, sales calls per month, or number of training hours are all measure of effort. If we are certain that effort A will yield result B, this is not a problem. In fact, when results can't be measured directly, this may be your only option. But if results can be measured, it is usually better to focus on results and give the organization more flexibility for how the results are achieved. There are three reasons it is better to measure results.

1. All the activities required to achieve a specific result are often too numerous to measure. The activities that are measured are favored over those that are not.
2. Our assumptions about cause and effect are sometimes wrong. If so, more effort doesn't lead to better results.
3. When people are given more latitude on how to accomplish a result, they often innovate in ways management overlooks.

So when you develop your performance measurement system make sure you begin by defining the results you are trying to achieve.
Strategic Planning Myths

Here is the last installment of Planning Myths. These are the things that get in the way of organizations that would benefit from a stronger planning process:

1) An Implied Plan is OK. - Some people believe that a plan doesn't have to be written down. They assume everyone knows the plan. In truth, the process of putting a plan on paper often identifies and resolves conflicts and creates a powerful communications tool.

2) We haven't needed a plan so far.. - "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Unfortunately, the pace of change is growing and the requirements for success in the future are likely to be different than in the past.

3) We don't have the resources to plan. - Planning does take resources mostly in the form of management time. However, if done well, planning can have a dramatic impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of an organization. This investment should pay off in the long term.
Poll Question
The poll question last quarter asked people how likely they thought it was that oil would reach $75 per barrel in 2007. The majority of respondents believe oil is going higher. A total of 58% say it is at least somewhat likely to reach $75. Here is the breakdown:
29%Very Likely
29%Somewhat Likely
14%Toss Up (Don't Know)
21%Somewhat Unlikely
7%Very Unlikely
Our poll question this quarter is: Who do you think will be the Republican Nominee to run for President?

  • Giuliani
  • McCain
  • Romney
  • Thompson
  • Other
  • We will report the results in the next issue and then cover the Democratic nominees.
    Click here to participate in our poll. You may return to the Poll Page to monitor the results as often as you like. However, you should respond to the poll question only once.
    Succession Planning
    One of the greatest challenges faced by any organization is the transition from one generation of leadership to the next. This challenge is even greater if ownership and family are part of the equation. Many businesses fail before the transition can be completed. The critical error that is often made is waiting too long to address the issue. The longer you wait, the fewer options you have available.

    The succession plan should be an integral part of the organization's strategic plan. Issues relating to cash flow, leadership development, key customer relationships, and organizational structure are often related to how leadership succession will be accomplished.
    Future Topics
  • What Successful Organizations Have In Common
  • How Planning Evolves Within an Organization
  • For more information contact Jim Sisson - jsisson@vantageassociates.com
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