How Trigger Metrics Get You To Get Things Done

“Good idea! So when should we do this?” How many times has an agreement on a productivity improvement, a process change, pursuing a new opportunity, buying or selling something been agreed but when it comes to the “when” answer it is general, distant or even vague? A process we teach called Trigger Metrics™ can get you to avoid the vague and initiate action.

Getting agreement or acknowledgement on what could be done to improve something isn’t uncommon. Good ideas get proposed, vetted and belief forms yet the time for action is often…not yet. So when? Soon, eventually, when the moon is in the seventh house? In our Time Management course we talk about simplifying your actions into “could do,” “should do,” and “must do” buckets. The primary difference being your “must do” activities require you to schedule them in a specific time, or window, on your calendar to act on it.

With bigger or more complex processes things that are moving from could do to must do in management’s belief find the “when” is often subject to things that don’t have a timeline or worse, don’t hold anyone’s feet to the fire for a commitment to specific actions. It feels supportive to agree with an idea and suggest that “eventually” that’s where you need to go. Feels like a vision for the future, but it ain’t a plan.

Our belief is to use Trigger Metrics™process to take care of the when and if to make changes. In summary, the process asks you to define the conditions under which a change makes sense to take place so you convert, “That’s something we should really do when we are a bit bigger.” To: “When our sales grow to $1.5MM and our margin remains at 24% or better Jane’s team will activate the new widget.” In short, requiring yourself to put metrics that activate actions promotes several key business objectives:

  1. Being specific rather than vague forces thoughtfulness and specifics and allows for agreement by taking generalizations to specifics and that allows everyone to understand the water line, so to speak.
  2. Tying actions to a set of numeric statistics or measurable conditions means you create commitment to action. The top reasons leaders fail to act on what they acknowledge they should is a lack of specific commitment.
  3. When you know something is going to be measured and an accomplishment, or lack of, will automatically initiate change you become acutely aware of all consequences.
  4. Trigger Metrics where actions are tied to measurable items creates Accountability, a key component of success in the highest accomplishing organizations and individuals.

Besides positive change initiatives negatives can also be predefined to avoid surprise. “If our sales drop below $5MM we will have cut staff by 2 people.” Consequences become clear so motivation is also easily stimulated.

The next time you hear or think that something would be a good idea to do, change, buy/sell, initiate down the line and the “when” is either not specific or not connected to an actual tipping point consider holding yourself to a new process. Use Trigger Metrics to figure out the when, or what needs to happen in order to catalyst change and take the guessing out of process improvement and the second guessing or rationalizing out of inaction. Set the conditions for change and when they occur have the courage of your convictions to follow through, act, and get it done.

Of course, if a new evaluation determines the initial metrics were incorrect or incomplete then acknowledge those factors and reset the metrics to a specific measurable and a reset specific action to follow. You may just find you are getting things done and maybe a little less worried that there’s so little time to act on good ideas.

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