Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How many metrics do you need to tame a wild Enterprise?

Dear Readers,
It is summer and as you can see by the title on this blog I am in Dallas today, daring to compare business intelligence to a rodeo, where the cattle are the different company divisions and the lariats the metrics that are used to report on performance.
In one of my previous postings I discussed the feasibility of having a single metric - the silver bullet - to identify the right candidates to be staffed in business intelligence projects, however can we find another golden bullet to manage performance in the Enterprise?
This quest has given birth to numerous discussions within the Enterprise Performance Management experts, leading to the construction of frameworks such as the "Balanced Scorecard" and the "Performance Prism" among others. However after talking to numerous CPOs (Chief Performance Officers) in top Fortune 500 organizations they are still struggling to "tame their Enterprise” so to speak. Measuring performance in a large organization becomes a real challenge, as different leaders define achieving success in different ways, thus seeing performance through a different lenses (or prism) and making it difficult to agree on what to pursue, forget about how to measure.
Life goes on, the stocks markets open and close and some companies win and some other loose. So this encourages the debate, can we define performance as a company stock going up in the market? As always the answer is not as clear as we would it like to be, the stock price can indeed be a short term performance metric that is visible and well understood to the organization. However it is like trying to laze a calve with a very wide lariat, yes you might succeed in getting the lariat on the calve, but can you make the calve follow you? Most likely the calve will get through and you will end up empty handed.
So, if stock price is not THE metric, what then? Is there any hope to find the silver metric that I can report to my CFO to make all my problems go away?
Imagine that you are a cowboy or cowgirl and you are about to compete in the steer wrestling event. In this event you have to jump from your horse onto a running “Corriente steer” and wrestle it to the ground. Could you succeed? As dangerous and difficult as this challenge sounds, many “vaqueros/as” are able to successfully accomplish this task continuously in every rodeo. The secret lies in knowing how to handle your cattle, and working together with your horse to jump on the steer at the right time, avoiding the horns.
So I pose the question back to you, do you know your cattle well and can you work together with the right horse to tame your wild Enterprise?
Have a great summer,