5 minute read

SO 18 Measure what matters

business

By Eric Balinski

Measure what matters

If you don't, everything else is a waste of money

“ Over the years you make lots of mistakes by making it complex and taking too many measurements.”

– Master Shooting Instructor

Measurement is a key component to improve business performance. Business measurement achieves two things: It provides a relative position assessment on how well something is being accomplished at a certain point in time relative to a goal. It also provides information that can enable improvement or correction to the goal achievement.

While the intent of measurement is often right, what typically plays out in business is either measuring everything or claiming some things just cannot be measured—a leap of faith is required.

There have always been questions as to what and how things are measured. There have been debates about what the dimensions of business performance are that need to be measured and improved.

For craft industry producers this effort may not occur, as often they rely on the

notion that it produces the “finest” item in its class. This is a bit egotistical and potentially detrimental to its long-term growth and prosperity as it inhibits learning or even blocks recognizing changes in the marketplace.

While I spent more than 20 years in large corporations, all of which had dogmatic attention to performance measurement with tools from Deming or the Six-Sigma process, my perspective

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took a radical departure a number of years ago when I attended a weekend to acquire the skills needed to be a master shooting instructor. The weekend was hosted by a luxury craft gun maker with a history of gunsmithing for nearly 100 years at its shooting school.

While the topic of guns is controversial in the United States, put aside your personal beliefs to learn from this craft maker. They are truly at the pinnacle of theirs or any craft industry. They painstaking use hand workmanship to craft products from the finest materials, adding artisans skills with microscopic attention to detail, and finish pieces with finely engraved artwork to create custom pieces that can fetch upward of more than a quarter of a million dollars for a pair of matched side-by-side 12-gauge shotguns. The fortunate owners wait six months or more for their personalized pieces.

Once completed, the owners will spend countless hours on a sporting clays range to fine-tune this work of art to their own body and shooting skills.

My weekend at this school led to a new mindset about performance improvement and measurement. Here is their philosophy:

• The right stance—To be an accurate and proficient shooter, it all starts with the person’s stance, that is, what is the body position. If this is wrong, everything will be wrong after that.

• Simplicity leads to reproducibility—In other words; don’t complicate things with too many details, steps and cumbersome things to remember. Focus on the most critical things for success.

• Never listen to the shooter—Too often a shooter will explain away his performance when he is not hitting the target. When he starts missing he'll make adjustments to his body when in fact it’s the tool that needs adjusting.

• It's very personal—Find out the client’s reason for being. In other words, a competition shooter has very different requirements than the person out for a day of sporting clays with friends.

• Measurements—There is only a few key ones for a gun fitter to take. Too often a gun fitter will take many in the desire to be precise. This can lead to a poor fit or the shooter over thinking things that matter very little.

One way to consider this philosophy is through literal interpretation, such as the shooter is your customer, or the fitter is a person in the craft production process. In keeping with Point two, Simplicity, and Point 4, it is Personal; here's what it means without having a gun debate.

Most craft-based companies do things with precision, with measurement being a key behavior when making their product. Yet, with business improvement, it's not uncommon to find faith guiding decisions rather the same discipline used to create their product.

Most craft-based companies do things with precision, with measurement being a key behavior when making their product. Yet, with business improvement, it's not uncommon to find faith guiding decisions rather the same discipline used to create their product. As such a business frequently misses meeting goals, not because it's not measuring, but because it is doing these things:

The wrong customer perspective

Businesses often measure the wrong things about customers because the business has created the wrong perspective on its customer, such as believing

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a better product is better for customers, when in some cases a better price with the existing product is what the customer really values.

The focus must be on what the customer is trying to experience, why they’re trying to experience it and how it could be better achieved for them.

Consolidated customer viewpoints

Many companies seeking to improve do so by surveying customers. These

In short, the essence of measurement for any craft marketer is to improve performance by continually delivering something of value to customers.

happens in the marketplace relative to its goals. Usually the product or service forms the core identity for the business, so measurement is centered on the product or service.

Measuring products against competition

Measuring the product/service and business performance relative to the competition is based on the fallacy that the business believes a better product or service wins the customer's business.

In a world of similar customer options, this works until one competitor wakes up and says "enough" and changes the game based upon new value it offers. Great value creators all share the ability to discover new value, even in mature craft markets. This usually doesn't happen by studying the competition, but by studying the world of the customer.

survey’s findings too often become a consolidated view rather than developed into an approach that recognizes the different value desired by different buyers.

With consolidated data, the top issues and needs are analyzed to determine where to focus efforts and resources, but the business doesn't learn is that the top needs and issues for each different buyer group.

Measuring what matters to you

Businesses often developed measures that it believes are important to its own success and makes assumptions about what the customers’ needs are. These assumptions about the customer form the basis of what a business thinks it must do to meet its own success criteria.

It focuses on execution and measuring frantically against its internal goals and perhaps getting fairly creative along the way to explain what actually

Measuring too much

Having more data isn’t inherently better. More data can mean a diminishing return in understanding and ability to use information. Eventually there is so much data that no one remembers what the question was the business was trying to answer. The issue isn’t more data, but tapping the right data, in the right place, at the right time to make better informed decisions.

In short, the essence of measurement for any craft marketer is to improve performance by continually delivering something of value to customers. Value can only come from discovering what really will make a difference to the customers' life. Therefore measure what will impact customers long before counting how much money the business will make.

Eric Balinski is the owner of Synection, LLC, which is a strategy and growth consultancy firm. For more information, visit: synection.com.

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