We’re already a month and a half into 2019 and if you’re like me you’ve probably set some lofty goals that you want to accomplish for the year. In The 4 Disciplines of Execution the authors stress the difference between lead and lag measure and how important it is to have a scoreboard to track your progress toward your goals.
“A lag measure is the measurement of a result you are trying to achieve. We call them lag measures because by the time you get the data the result has already happened; they are always lagging....Lead measures are different; they foretell the result. They have two primary characteristics. First, a lead measure is predictive, meaning that if the lead measure changes, you can predict that the lag measure also will change Second, a lead measure is influenceable; it can be directly influenced by the team.” - 4 Disciplines of Execution
A lead measure is something you can control whereas a lag measure is the result of the lead measure. I think the weight loss example best illustrates this: if you’re trying to lose weight you can’t control the exact amount of weight your body will shed in a given week but you can control how many times you work out and what you eat. Instead of focusing on losing 5 pounds (lag measure) it’s more productive to focus on working out three times a week and eating a low-carb diet (lead measure).
The other piece the authors stress is having a scoreboard so you can track your progress in relation to your goal. If you’re tracking your weight loss and you can see that you’ve lost 10 pounds in 2 months have you reached your goal? That depends on what your goal is. Being able to see your progress in relation to your goal provides you with valuable feedback and can serve as a great motivator.
In our business we often set yearly revenue goals (lag measure) which are a direct result of how many invoices (lead measure) we get out. Smartsheet is fantastic at helping us track if we’re on target to reach our annual billing goal. One of the things we cover in the course is how to create dashboards to track your key metrics.
As you’re pursuing your goals this year, remember to track your lead measures on a compelling scoreboard to keep you moving in the right direction.