Career Tip #14: Show and Know Metrics


Once I was in a meeting at Dell, and someone said the company could stop on a dime. A colleague retorted, We’d stop because of a dime!”

As funny as that is, this kind of agility is only possible in a metrics-oriented culture. Friends who have left Dell for new companies are amazed at how metrics-deficient their culture is. They are shocked how employees don’t understand the basics of a P&L, and so they work to add KPIs into the business that feed the P&L. As a result, these new employees are MVPs to executives because they speak their language.

A little over a year ago I visited my undergrad college, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and met with the Dean of Business Marketing. I told him marketing graduates need to be more analytically-capable and trained than they were when I went to school. He agreed, and in fact they were in the midst of planning restructuring of the curriculum to focus on analytics.

Demonstrating focus and proficiency in measurement will help your career. By showing a command of measuring your activities, you will appear in much better control of your area…and thus be given more responsibility. Executives will have more confidence in employees who can manage and measure, and are comforted by employees who can speak and present in their language.

However, don’t make the mistake of getting stuck on the guard-rail of internal measurement. Balance your perspective with customer feedback, customer measures, and creative thinking. Make some principle-based decisions on behalf of the customer. Forego short term profit for long term gain, as Toyota does.

As an aside, at Toyota, a very efficient and measured company, they stress eight forms of waste. The first seven are overproduction, waiting, unnecessary movement, inappropriate process, unnecessary inventory, and defects. The newest form of waste, number eight is the underutilization of skills and creative thinking in your employees!

One Response

  1. The importance of metrics in the discipline of marketing is continuing to blossom. Here is a great podcast offer by Wharton Knowledge on the importance of marketing metrics in financial performance. Enjoy and thanks for the business insights.

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