Most organizations have a plan for what they what to accomplish in a given year-maybe an elaborate one, maybe a simple one, but they have a plan. That’s good. And, most organizations measure results and various other data. That’s good, too.  I’ve found, though, that most organizations just measure final results (end of the month, end of the quarter, etc). I don’t think that’s enough though. It’s the equivalent of just looking at the final score of a football game. Nice to know, but too late to have done anything to improve results along the way during the game.

Smart organizations have created and customized reports to tell them how they are doing in real time. They measure certain activities today that can indicate how the final results may be tracking. They go by many names; we called ours a Benchmark Report. We measured how we were doing each week and month in a few key areas, knowing that if these areas went south on us, we were in real trouble on our yearly goals down the road . This allowed us to monitor, almost in real time, how our performance was likely to impact year end results, budgets and to make adjustments durng the year.

What key indicaters in your organization can serve as the “canary in the coal mine”? Remember, I’m not talking about measuring status of progress towards your annual goals more frequently, but measuring key acitivities you are doing today that will directly impact your final results.