What’s Your Number? Critical, that is..

critical number

So, you have created your strategic plan, defined your 3 years projections and established your targets for this year.  Now, you must shift your focus to this quarter and select the Critical Numbers.

A Critical Number drives a short-term priority that you want your entire team/company to focus on and improve.  Imagine if you could get the whole organization pulling behind a short-term priority to make one specific thing happen.

How do you pick a Critical Number? Ask, what is our top burning issue and what do we need to improve most?  There is often a strong temptation to choose Revenue as the Critical Number and we ask you not to. That’s right.. DON’T CHOOSE REVENUE!  It’s too broad.

Revenue can be improved in so many different ways: more new customers, higher pricing or increased frequency of buying.  Think upstream and try to decide specifically what you want more of and why?  Get your team focused on something narrower that they can control.

After you set a Critical Number, we suggest that you set a second counterbalancing Critical Number. Why?

Let’s illustrate with an example from Delta Airlines:

Delta was driving hard to improve their on-time departures metric.  By focusing so hard on on-time departure, they started cutting corners and frequently were unable to load all of the bags on each plane. This left some of their customers without their luggage and feeling rather angry. So Delta began measuring missing customer bags and overall customer satisfaction along with on-time departures, and it forced the company to figure out how to provide on-time departures without cutting important corners.  That’s why it is important to have a counterbalancing critical number to prevent any unintended negative consequences.

To get to the Innovative or Breakthrough Zone, you must continuously practice the Rockefeller Habits.  This includes a carefully thought out Critical Number and a counterbalancing Critical Number for each quarter.  When the senior leadership team and the whole organization fully understand and drive towards the critical numbers, you will move further and faster in bridging the strategy to results gap.  TAKE THIS FREE SURVEY to assess whether your company is following the Rockefeller Habits


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