Last week I visited a big conference at San Francisco which focused organizational objectives.
One of the lecturers was Dr. Donald Sol concluded his research on 300 companies and shared some of his fascinating findings. In his research, he approached the CEOs and COOs of the companies and asked them to interview the people in charge in their organization regarding transforming goals to results.
These interviews discovered that an amazing 60% of the participants could not name the top three objectives of the company for the upcoming year.
There is a well-known philosophical question: Does a tree falling in the woods with nobody around make a sound?
Does a manager, who has an excellent strategy, think he can steer his company into the right direction if no one is aware of his strategy?
We were recently informed that two of our clients had entered 2016 after being purchased by large international companies. We know that companies are not sold, but actually acquired.
What is the difference?
The difference is that an acquisition or an IPO is a byproduct of a successful business, whereas a purchase of a company can be due to unsuccessful business as well.
In most M&As today, the buyer checks management’s approach and routines in order to make sure that the asset he is purchasing will be successful over time and will yield the expected return.
This kind of management due diligence will focus on examining the company’s main business processes in various domains: sales, service, supply chain, IT, human resource, marketing, project management, finance, etc.
The goal of every manager is to produce good business and do so by always improving the quality of the management culture. A good business is based on a market needed product or service, which grows from a systematic management that is target driven. A system that keeps us on the right path and focused on the company’s main objectives is a necessity.
The first question a manager needs to ask himself is: What do I need to improve in my company?
The second question is: How do I know that we are steering the company in the right direction?
One of the key tools that successful companies use is a measurement model based on KPIs. The target is to serve as a GPS which directs everyone in the organization to focus on where to place their energies. Identifying the important KPIs for each company is the first step in order to understand the right path to increase growth.
Iris TsidonHow using KPIs promotes successful M&As
2015 was a good and meaningful year for Okapi, as we added new customers in various industries. Today we are active in 25 fascinating projects and are deeply connected to our clients’ success. In addition, we started working with new clients in North America and preparations towards our customers successful on-boarding is at its peak.
2016 has begun with 4 new clients, welcomed to the Okapi family: AHAVA, HA&W, Novo World Group and a large army unit.
Throughout 2015, we initiated or participated as a lecturer in over 10 meet-ups. We hosted Okapi designated meet-ups for CEOs and CFOs, co-hosted a meet-up with Advise, participated as a guest lecturer at the CPA convention and led work groups at the Manufacturer’s Association. It gives us a great satisfaction to give value and receive feedback from participants who use the knowledge we imparted in their companies.
Following the expansion of the Okapi family and the personal relationships that are formed with every new client, we decided that in 2016 we would create mutual growth and introductions among our clients as they share common ground. Our clients are open to making innovative decisions in their organizations; they have a belief in the potential of their organizations and their people and are always looking for new tools to help them expand into new domains. In the upcoming months we will arrange a colleague’s meeting of our clients and we are sure it will be great!
2015 was also the year in which we published our first book – Million Dollar KPIs!!
Writing and publishing the book was an amazing process with the great assistance of Media 10. The book can be found in large book stores, and during this process we participated in large book fairs.
During November 2015 we toured New York and Atlanta where we held meetings with many potential clients, received feedback on our product and signed several collaboration agreements with leading partners. Furthermore, we had the unique experience of visiting the amazing Okapi animal in the Bronx Zoo. It is the inspiration for our company’s name.
Throughout the year we have grown rapidly. We hired a new developer for our R&D team and expanded our Customer Success team. This was done to meet our standards which are: a 4 week implementation of the system. In addition we hired a sales manager dedicated for our US growth.
We are very excited to see what is expected for 2016 and always keep in mind that this would not have been possible without your help: as supporters, word of mouth recommenders, meet-up participants, book readers, collaborators and of course as clients and family members – THANK YOU !
2016 is right around the corner, and as in the beginning of each year you are determined on focusing your staff on the important goals your company needs to meet in order to grow.
Some managers testify that the methods they use in order to do that do not give the desired results:
Company meet-ups, business objective presentations, personal goals for managers, evaluations, performance measurement processes, personal talks, team meeting, criticizing, and mainly repeating over and over what your company needs to focus on are only a few of the many examples.
And still, after trying all that, you feel that you are not going in the right direction. So what now?
There are two paths to choose from:
Keep doing what you did until now and achieve the same results as before (some would say that’s the best scenario), or as Albert Einstein once said:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results”
Or, you can adopt an effective management approach, which successful organizations have been using – Management based on KPIs – using an innovative platform which can meet the needs of your company and our modern times.
What Does That Mean?
The first step is translating the main directions that you want into a map of business objective for the company for 2016 and onwards. This translation can be done using your business plan or through an interactive interview/ answering a survey.
Some managers will focus on achieving higher income from existing clients, some will focus mainly on profitability and some will focus on entering new markets, each company and its area of objectives to focus on.
The second step is to transform the business objectives into clear and measurable KPIs for the staff. These KPIs need to express exactly what we want to achieve (rather then what’s easy to measure), they have to be measurable (not vague definitions) and they have to have a clear target value which can be addressed to on a weekly to monthly basis. Furthermore, in order for these KPIs to have an actual effect on the behavioral aspect of the staff they have to be accessible online and always updated in for everyone to be connected to their responsibilities.
If you’re interested in hearing more on the subject and seeing testimonies of companies who have successfully implemented the Okpai platform please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you.
Okapi wishes you a productive 2016 and a very happy new year !
Iris Tsidon2016’s performance will be determenied by your focus
Today we are going to focus on manufacturing and describe a scenario we often see.
You are a manager in a manufacturing company and face several challenges:
The delivery time of your products is not competitive, and this is hampering your company’s growth potential. Furthermore, the ratio between your work hours and your extra hours in general is not in accordance with the production rates which directly effects your profitability.
What do the successful manufacturers do in order to solve this challenges?
One of the best methods is management using KPIs
The main idea is to give the company’s employees tools to help them focus on those actions that have the highest priority, to which they need to give their attention.
Each factory has its own KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which are its key drivers to achieve its main goals.
The following are examples of common and powerful profit effecting KPIs:
“Average Delivery Time per Unit”
Many times employees will argue that the variance between the units is large and therefore it will be hard to keep track of such a KPI. However from experience with our customers we see that measuring the KPI on a weekly/monthly basis works well once you measure the average time of all units, giving you a number to address that defuses the variance.
The same goes for the KPI “Number of Units per Work Hour”.
ACEO of a factory, where Okapi is implemented, testified that “the method improved my quality of life“. Before the system he encountered many requested for extra hours and was almost the only person in the factory who had to make the hard decisions while his managers also thought about their employees who wished to improve their salaries. Does that sound familiar?
After deciding to use KPIs, the managers themselves understood their importance and it motivated them to color it green – meaning to achieve their target value. As we can see simply by using a KPI and giving the matter a sign of importance we can influence our managers’ and employees’ behaviors.
The same CEO testified that his employees began performing one of two actions:
Either pressuring the relevant departments in the factory to give them more work orders or decline extra hour requests by themselves! He didn’t believe his eyes when he witnessed that by choosing and implementing the right KPI, you can affect the behavior of your managers.
Is it sufficient to determine clear financial results such as income, profitability or booking KPIs?
In order to achieve improved business performance, it’s important to integrate procedural and action-based KPIs. These clarify for managers what actions they need to focus on in order to achieve the result-based KPIs.
Managers who succeed in combining between result-based KPIs and process-based KPIs – show their employees the route to success and by doing so guarantee meeting the objectives of the company.
In 1992, Norton and Kaplan, two professors from Harvard University, developed a performance management method named Balance Scorecard. This method combines quantitative and qualitative KPIs, which are at the highest priority for the company, giving the manager a tool with which he will be able to lead the company to success in a competitive market.
Managing the scorecard in a wise and balanced way – allows the manager to clarify his vision by translating strategy into measurable goals and monitor the company’s performance through determining precise execution goals to all of the company’s units and level of employees.
In a business organization, the objectives and the KPIs in the balanced scorecard lead to achieving the required results in the financial perspective, resulting in financial value to the company’s stakeholders. Moreover, the balanced scorecard focuses the company on the cause and effect relationship in other perspectives such as Business Process, Customers & Growth and Employees.
For Example: in order to support the business objective of Employee Retention, two KPIs can be adequate:
A result based KPI: % Attrition of core employees – this is a result based KPI which we would like to improve.
A process based KPI: # of employees with a personal development plan – in this KPI we will measure the required actions the manager believes need to be done in order to achieve its goal.
Good luck focusing your company on its most important KPIs which will lead to growth and performance improvement – throughout all company levels.
Iris TsidonWhy some CEOs almost always achieve their goals
We’ve all been in this situation: it’s 10pm, we look at our schedule to see what tomorrow holds and our hearts sink as we see those two dreaded words ‘management meeting’. The meeting itself was completely forgotten amidst the uncontrollable workload and now that it has resurfaced we have no idea what to talk about, how to pass the two hours allocated for the meeting. The first thing that comes to mind is to cancel, but we already canceled last time… management meetings are important, indeed, that’s what everybody says, but we struggle to pinpoint its importance, and definitely don’t understand how to manage one in such a way that will truly transform it into a valuable management tool.
There Must Be A Better Way
It happens in every aspect of our life. We get a pointed recommendation, or read a well-reasoned article that explains how this or that tool will alter our life. We hear from friends who tried it themselves and yes, it works! “You’re not gonna believe what change it brings, you have to try it as well!” We approach it with skepticism – this isn’t the first time we listen, try and get disappointed – and indeed, we are disappointed again. Why does it work for others but not for us? The answer might be in our willingness to put in the time and learn about the tool before using it. We can cut ourselves some slack and blame the lack of time, but it is actually us who don’t do the work properly.
And so it goes with management meetings. Like any other managerial tool, there is a method to running an effective management meeting, and there’s the other ‘method’ – doing things for the sake of doing them without grasping the tool’s implications and capabilities.
Whoever has tried baking a cake without a recipe is familiar with the result. It comes out somewhat cake-like but hasn’t quite earned the title of “cake”. The texture isn’t right, the taste lacks balance and often the appearance is somewhat sloppy. For baking, precision and planning is needed, you can’t just wing it. For a management meeting to come out ‘just right’ and promote the company’s goals, an agenda must be set and followed.
The first thing to set is a goal. What is the goal of the meeting? Indeed the meetings are weekly, at a fixed day and time (we’ll get to that in a minute) but still, routine does not relieve from the need to set goals. The opposite is true. The way to fight routine is by setting goals and routinely checking goals vs. accomplishments.
For every meeting, a leader must be appointed from within the management team. This person is in charge of the meeting’s professional agenda. She needs to prepare all the documentation, collect and fact-check the data, and if needed, have a pre-meeting with the CEO to get approval of the data that is to be presented in the meeting.
An effective meeting should run with a plan. A time keeper makes sure that ten minutes are indeed ten minutes. A wooden hammer can be provided, or a whistle, a bicycle horn or download the app that makes your favorite noise – what’s crucial here is time management to allow the meeting to move forward with vitality rather than swallow a full half-day with discussion that can (and should) be taken offline.
The CEO opens the meeting with 10 to 15 minutes to set meeting goals as well as to update, give pointers and re-focus on the big picture.
Next, go around the table allocated each team member – 5 to 7 minutes for updates from the different divisions. The updates should be those which are linked to other divisions and thus all must be aware of them. Intra-departmental issues that bare no consequences on the strategic goals and general work plan should be saved for water cooler chit-chat. Management meetings time belongs to everybody.
After everyone is clear on the day-to-day, it’s time for the main attraction.
To expand the sum of knowledge around thetable
The main discussion shouldn’t deal with the day-to-day which has already been discussed during the roundtable updates. The main discussion of every meeting should be used as a tool in the hands of the CEO to make the necessary connection between goals and work plan, thus pushing the company forward.
The recommendation here is to have an open discussion in the first meeting of every quarter in order to pinpoint topics the team believes have value and promote success, and is interested in learning them together and acquiring the tools to tackle them heads on. The topics need to be extracted from the goals that are most challenging for the team. A list of topics is prepared, a schedule of discussions set, and a leader assigned to each meeting.
The leader should prepare the discussion beforehand. The idea is to create a true and meaningful discussion, a brainstorming session. In order to do this, a catalyst must be identified and knowledge must be shared. If there are experts in certian fields from within the company who will inject knowledge and depth into the discussion, summon them. If not, an external expert should be invited. The leader can co-lead the discussion with the expert if the need arises.
There is no point in rolling the same ideas based on the same sum of knowledge around the table. It is crucial that the discussion opens with new knowledge, a fresh angle, and on occasion with a fresh voice from outside the company who will provide a different point of view. Otherwise the discussion will die quickly and conclude the same way as the last week, or last year.
In an effective management meeting the CEO:
Promotes the topics most important for the company’s growth
Creates a dynamic agenda
Empowers team members in preparation and management of the discussions, and their own personal growth
Allows herself to listen to other opinions, be generous in giving tools and delegating insights
In cases there are urgent matters on top of the day-to-day it is advisable to schedule a special meeting to deal with these matter exclusively. There’s also the option of extending a scheduled management meeting but it should be kept in mind that in order to be focused and driven, we all need our routines, the anchors that prevent us from being carried away from the tasks that really matter, pushing the company toward growth. ‘Urgent’ and ‘crisis’ aren’t a management philosophy.
A fixed day and time for management meetings (Preferably Mondays)
The fixed day and time should not interfere with client relations
No lateness, no no-shows, everybody clears their schedules
First week of every month – first fixed topic (for example: development status, projects, production)
Leader is VP R&D / project manager / production chief
Second week of every month – second fixed topic (for example: budget vs. execution)
Leader is CFO / head accountant / chief economist
Third week of every month – monthly goals meeting, Top Down meeting
Fourth week of every month – monthly sales meeting
Leader is marketing chief / sales chief / account manager
We all know the type, the guy who wants to do everything on his own. We know his type so well, and there are so many out there that they’ve earned a nickname – Control Freak. He has to know what everyone is doing at any point in time. He has to be involved in every matter. He wants to know about stuff as soon as it happens and if you don’t update him after the deed is done, oh my. Who does he trust? Pretty much only himself.
Don’t let the ‘he’ misguide you – women can also be control freaks.
Annoying though he may be, he is a gifted entrepreneur, an expert in his field, and the number one sales person of the product or service he created. And it’s not a coincidence he is sticking his nose in everyone’s affairs. The clients always ask for him, want him to be personally involved in their project and the investors also demand him at the helm, as CEO, as COO and as Head of Sales. It’s not easy being a one-man-show.
The hubris sometimes raises its head and the talented man who decides and does everything on his own wishes he could clone himself, since it is only he who could bring in the thunder (these are the thoughts that go through his head). And there are times that this feeling of ‘only I can prevail’ gets reinforcements; an employee makes a mistake that costs the company a great deal; a client calls to complain about the account manager; a potential investor finds mistakes in a financial statement made by the accountant… see? He exclaims in silence, is it any wonder I insist everything will go through me?
Push, Push, Push!
After the chips have been cashed, and the realization of the heavy toll that this scenario is taking on the company sinks in, the way to let go of the control and to start trusting more is by undertaking a dramatic change in the flow of data in the company. The data should reach the CEO at the right moment, meaning, before the fire erupts. To give him the chance to quickly slide down a poll and race forward in a red truck to the rescue, not summon him after everything is scorched and the only thing left to do is list the damages. The CEO must know where each assignment stands, what is the status of each and every project, how sales are performing, how satisfied the clients are, what’s doing with R&D – all this data must be pushed to the CEO.
Data that is being pushed to the CEO, at the right moment and in accordance with specifications that he defined, provide the CEO with much needed peace of mind. He knows that the assignments he marked as important for achieving the strategic goals are moving forward as expected or that his help is required. Either way, he’s got his finger on the pulse and there is nothing CEOs like better than hearing the heartbeat of a company forging forward.
Balance that Scoreboard
In 1997, The Harvard Business Review declared the Balanced Scoreboard strategy performance management tool as the most important development in business in the last 75 years. Nothing that happened in the 15 years that have passed since poses any threat to the validity of this claim. So we can update the claim and say: the Balanced Scoreboard is the most important development in business in the last 90 years.
The methodology was first presented by Robert Kaplan and David Northon in 1992 – an iconic piece of business trivia. The Scoreboard provides tremendous added value to the CEO and the organization as a whole by providing precise, concise and relevant data. One of the great achievements of the methodology is the ability to secure a balance of budgetary allocations for short-term goals on the one hand, and resources for long term goals on the other. A focused and in-control management of the Scoreboard allows the CEO to better communicate his vision through translating the strategy to measurable goals, and follow-up on performance by defining clear performance expectations from all ranks.
After everyone is clear on definitions of roles and performance, it’s time to implement a system that manages the company’s goals and sets KPIs for every management team member (Okapi anyone?). From now on, the CEO can log into the system and immediately see the successes and failures, the status of every goal. The control is still in place, sans control freak.
Roll Up the Sleeves
In order to be in control without controlling, the CEO should use these managerial routines:
Personal work meetings – face to face, over the phone, video chat, or any other forms of communications practiced in the company
Fixed and effective management meetings
A performance management system that allows data to be pushed
Also, the CEO should communicate clearly at the beginning of every quarter / half / year the company’s goals for the upcoming period in four spheres:
The financial perspective – “In order to succeed financially, how should we present ourselves to our shareholders?”
The customers & growth perspective – “In order to achieve our goals, how should we present ourselves to our clients?”
The business procedures perspective – “In order to satisfy our clients, in which procedures should we excel?”
The people perspective – “In order to actualize our vision, how should we continue to invest in our people?”
The Balanced Scoreboard translates strategy to measurable goals. All employees and operational arms get clear KPIs. The CEO’s vision trickled down and reached all the troops.
A system that holds the company’s goals and personal KPIs allows the CEO the be up-to-date on every task and goal, without driving the team nuts by micro-managing the hell out of them.
Data that is pushed to the CEO, at the right time and in the specifications that he defined, gives him the power to manage and the confidence that everything is in control – basically, with his finger on the pulse.
There’s nothing like company’s first meeting in a new year. Excitement is in the air, top-shelf snacks are on the table, and the CEO presents the team with the goals and strategy for the upcoming 12 months. But if we return a month later and ask the team about those goals, in most cases few, if any, will remember them. Everyone is already deep into the day-by-day, the routine tasks – who has the time to lift his head from the computer screen to look forward?
Strategy Drifts Away
The CEO is giving his all to draft a grand strategy for the company: goals, check points, development scope, marketing plan, new products/services, costs vs. projected profit, SWOT… he stands in front of the board, or the investors, a presentation behind his back, answering questions, promising growth and if he does this well, he gains the trust and confidence he seeks. Then it is back to the team, to make it all happen.
The team is swamped in the daily grind. The CEO feels, more often than not, at a loss with the vast gap between what goes on in his head – strategy, goals, growth – and the daily actions that the team performs. And if that’s not enough, many CEOs find themselves being sucked, unwillingly, into the day-to-day, due to the expected ‘leaning’ of the team against its leader. They ask questions, seek guidance, look for solutions… so what’s a CEO to do? How can he change the day-to-day that requires him to constantly dive deep and float back to the top? More importantly, how do we link the team’s actions to the CEO’s ideas? How do we make sure that every task assigned to any team member stems directly from concrete goals and drives the strategic plan forward?
Every Slope is Both Uphill & Downhill
The argument on Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up has been going on for years, and it seems that the Bottom-Up approach is getting all the applause these days. It is very “Now”, very politically-correct, fits nicely with the social culture. But we live in the 21st century that symbolizes abundance more than anything else. There is so much of everything and we no longer need to choose, we can simply take this and that as well (never repeat this statement to a 14-year-old in a supermarket).
The CEO needs to manage in a balanced way, both ways. On the one hand, Bottom Up – daily operational management. It is crucial that the CEO doesn’t spend all of his time above the happening, but allocates time for routine ‘dives’ to check the pulse of the company, give tools, guide and direct, to bestow his experience and his all-encompassing point of view. Everybody wins here, still, balance is crucial, as is the CEO’s ability to make choices; only he should decide when to dive and for how long. He shouldn’t be walking around with an anchor tied to his ankle so every team member can pull him down whenever they feel it is “really urgent.”
On the other hand, it is of value that top management, those with direct access to the CEO’s ear, also adopt this methodology and not leave it solely to the man at the helm.
You can and should look at Top Down management as the most efficient way to make the necessary link between the team members’ action plans, and the goals set by the CEO as a way to implement the strategy in the daily:
Tasks are derived from goals
The team is aware of and understands the link between its own tasks and the company’s goals for the upcoming quarter/year
Routine meetings with the CEO and top management to report, adjust, and push ahead
Once every two weeks or monthly, every manager checks his/her own Plan vs. Actual, and adjusts accordingly
Meeting once every two weeks or monthly goals to discuss ‘where we’re at’ – every team member presents his/her own Plan vs. Actual so the CEO ensures implementation, understanding, cooperation, commitment and transparency
It is not the easiest of things to keep our New Year’s resolutions. The first weeks of the new year we are driven and enthusiastic, full of motivation and self-belief but then the days roll by and our daily lives get the best of us. Experts encourage us not to keep our Resolutions to ourselves, but share them with our family and peers, clear time in our calendars, set goals and self-award for accomplishments… basically implement the strategy into the daily grind.
Have a great year everyone, full of goals, challenges and “Thumbs-Up” for every one of them.
The two management approaches, Top Down & Bottom Up are complementery tools; It is not necessary to choose but rather to find the balance
Utilising the Bottom Up approach you are constantly feeling the pulse and providing your team with professional guidance and confidence
Utilising the Top Down approach you are making sure the strategic & performance goals you set are present in every action plan of every team member