With less than thirty days to go in the quarter, my mind returns to the business goals we set a few months ago. Some of those OKRs were related to organizational capabilities but the ones that are top of mind relate to pipeline progression and sales. This quarter. Next quarter. You probably have your own metrics that you’re tracking. So what do you do if things aren’t going right?
As a relatively new company we’re still gathering enough data to reliably predict the trends in some places. We’ve made significant investments in getting the right data — we’re disciplined CRM users, we track our marketing activities, and we instrument our platform so we get feedback on utilization. The key is not the data itself but how you put it to work running the business.
I was speaking to a digital marketing leader at a publishing company last week. He was talking about how they’re applying advanced text analytics (embeddings for you geeks out there) to help them with content findability. With tens of millions of documents, they’ve got a fairly unique challenge that is defying traditional search techniques.
One of his challengers is that they don’t have a reliable measure of success for his area. We’re going to talk more about that and see if we can help to set them up for success in the future.
Chicken meet egg
With performance being top of mind I wondered to myself about his ability to demonstrate achievements in this quarter and beyond. I also wondered what I’d do in his place if I were looking forward and trying to build a performance management system that makes sense. That will move the ball downfield. It’s easy to succumb to the desire to work on this next quarter. That’s the wrong instinct. Now is the time. Next quarter will be over before you know it.
There are four things I’d do.
1. In-quarter demonstration of value
No matter how rudimentary your measurement portfolio, you probably have a sense of what success looks like and where your most obvious problems lay. Find your highest-odds areas of success and go look at that, now. Is there something you can do this week that will change things next week?
The experiment can be modest and half-baked. But it will allow you to demonstrate that you’re taking the issue seriously, and have a bias for action. It may also slightly improve things.
I often recommend people start where they have friends. You know these people. Sometimes they are actually friends, but more often than not they’re the ones who simply nodded in agreement while others were shaking their heads. These are your lab partners.
2. Convene the experts
Whether it’s people within your department, elsewhere in the org or a vendor, you need to demonstrate that you’re able to track progress. This means metrics.
This work will arc into next quarter but by taking the reins this quarter you demonstrate that the measurement gap has both importance and urgency.
Resist the entreaties of some experts that the measurements already exist in some analytics system. That’s Holy Grail talk. If it were there you’d have found it. Someone else would already be using it.
The one thing you might have is data that could be constructed into metrics. Be open to that serendipity but don’t bet on it.
3. Establish a replicable management system
Demonstrating that you’ve got things under control usually requires not only measurements but a feedback and correction mechanism.
This is team sport. Who are the people who are going to enable your success? What organizations are going to be blockers? Who is the person who has the skills to run this thing?
This is another area where your friends can help. Make sure you have allies with you at the table. It’s hard to do this alone.
Talk to your boss, your peers and those outside you team about what you’re trying to achieve. Create a framework that is clear and concise. Can you fit it on one chart?
Also, don’t forget to listen aggressively while you’re communicating. Part of team sport is knowing the other players well and being able to respond to their ideas. The sum is greater than the parts.
Today is when this starts. Clear your calendar. Get moving. Knowing that a deadline looming sharpens the mind. Yes, everyone else is focused on their goals when deadlines loom, but you’d be surprised how generous people can be. Find them. Get moving. Today. Connect with us to get help along the journey.
Post originally published on Biznology
Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.