Have you ever found yourself fixated on a single number, obsessing over it like it holds the key to solving all problems?

I know I’ve been there. But here’s the thing: overemphasizing numbers can actually lead us down a dark path.

It’s tempting to think that if we hit a specific target, we’ve achieved our goals. But here’s the truth: solely relying on the numbers won’t cut it.

Now, let’s talk about the pitfalls of overemphasizing a single number – let’s say we want to reduce our cycle time to 5 days in 85% of the cases.

When we become too fixated on it, we lose sight of what really matters – the continuous improvement journey. And that, my friends, is a recipe for disaster.

Moving Forward from Setbacks

Let me break it down for you with an example:

Let’s imagine that your team’s delivery speed has been quite unpredictable, and you set a goal to improve it. The objective is to deliver any type of work in less than 5 days, 85% of the time. Now, fast forward 2 months, and you find that the 85th percentile on your Cycle Time Scatterplot still indicates 12 days.

cycle time trends build over timeUse the Cycle Time Scatterplot to measure how your cycle time trends build over time.

If you tend to overemphasize numbers, you might think, “Well, we’re still taking twice as long to deliver as we aimed for. We have a long way to go.”

This perspective can easily take the wind out of your sails.

However, when you shift your focus to the journey, your reaction changes. You might say, “Sure, we haven’t reached our 5-day target just yet, but look at how far we’ve come. We’ve established a decision-making system that can now drive us in the right direction.”

Do you notice the shift in your perspective? Instead of dwelling on “failure,” you’re now embracing the “opportunity.” Rather than being consumed by how much you’ve fallen short, you’re celebrating the progress you’ve made.

How to Stop Chasing Numbers and Start Achieving Meaningful Results

So, how do you avoid these negative outcomes and shift your focus to the gain instead?

I’m glad you asked! Here are some practical tips:

Tip #1: Focus On the Trends, Not the Numbers

Sure, the numbers do matter, no doubt about it. But you know what’s even more important? It’s how those numbers are trending over time.

Instead of getting caught up in the absolute values of the metrics, what truly counts is the direction they’re heading.

Keep an eye on whether your cycle time is decreasing and your throughput is increasing. Look for those signs of improvement in your overall performance.

If you spot positive trends, it’s clear that the changes you’ve made are working. If not, you have to look back and see what has made your trends decline.

Tip #2: Don’t Assume You Have All the Answers

It’s easy to get trapped in the belief that we’ve got it all figured out when it comes to those deviations in the metrics.

But let me tell you, involving your team in the conversation is where the real magic happens. Every single team member brings their own unique perspective, and they hold the key to uncovering the root cause of the problem.

So, create an environment of trust. Encourage everyone to speak up and share their opinions.

Start by asking questions like, “Why is this trend changing?” Let the answers flow and work together to identify those potential reasons.

Now, here’s the crucial part: prioritize the impediments based on their impact. Address the internal issues head-on and escalate the external challenges.

Trust me, when you involve your team, prioritize wisely, and tackle those obstacles, you’ll be well on your way to success.

Tip #3: Understand the Impact of Your Decisions

When it comes to continuous improvement, it’s all about trying new things and seeing how they impact our results.

When we succeed, we set new standards, and when we fail, we learn and improve.

It’s important to understand how your decisions and actions impact your performance. There’s no right or wrong in this situation.

The only time to be concerned is when you notice a shift in the trend, and neither you nor your team can connect it to a change you’ve implemented.

It’s crucial for all of us to fully understand how our decisions impact our performance. When we can predict what’s going to happen, we’re in control of our management practices. So, when we see a sudden dip or rise in our performance, we can pinpoint the real cause behind it.

Here’s what I want you to take away: Don’t overemphasis on numbers. Focus on the trends instead. Keep trying new things, learn from both successes and failures and always strive to improve. You’ve got this!

By shifting your focus from numbers alone to the trends they represent, involving your teams in the discussion, and understanding the impact of your decisions, you are setting yourself up for success in the long run.

Thank you for joining me today. If this article got you thinking and sparked some ideas, I’d love for you to share it with others who could also gain something from this point of view.

I’m excited to join you on Thursday, same time and place, for more action-packed managerial insights. Bye for now!

Do you find this article valuable?
Rating: 4.8 stars (4 readers voted)