Monday, January 04, 2010

Management By The Numbers

When I start talking about numbers with my entrepreneurial friends they all start rolling their eyes. "There he goes again, talking about numbers." I can certainly understand their objections. After all, these risk-taking business owners are leading companies because they have a passion for what they do, not because they have a passion for flow charts and spreadsheets.
I used to think that way as well. Until my business coach showed me how to use my numbers to solve the weaknesses in my business. The numbers always tell a story, and if you get to know your numbers, you can solve your deepest business issues.
This concept works in all phases of life and business. Take, for example, the St. Louis Blues hockey team. The underachieving team recently fired its head coach because of the team's poor performance. So, how does the new coach start to solve some of the team's problems? Well, a look at the numbers shows the team's two main weaknesses, a poor power play (one of the league's worst) and a poor home ice record (the worst in the league). If the new coach wants to get the Blues into the top 8 slots for a playoff birth in the next four months, he must improve on these two weaknesses. Really, nothing else matters. If the Blues were just .500 at home this year and average (compared to the rest of the league) on the power play, the team would be in the coveted top 8 already. Solve these problems and the team is in the playoffs.
The numbers tell the new coach where to look to solve the team's problems. The lesson: If you don't chart and measure your performance in a variety of ways, you won't know how to correct your weaknesses.
--Ron Ameln, SBM