Executive Strategy Skills | Your Critical Executive Question: What Metric Must You Move Now?
Running an organization — or your part of the organization — requires that you and your team do the right thing, at the right time, and never miss a beat.
That right thing keeps moving. As you get one part of the business in order, something else changes: people come and go, customer’s needs morph, vendors change their services, investors change their mind, competitors disrupt.
And all along the way, you get to figure out how to direct your team to where the customer’s money will be.
How do you know where to focus your attention?
No wonder you’re exhausted!
Choreographing the Juggle
Managing complexity is the hallmark of a capable executive. Some days it feels like you juggle a dozen raw eggs through flames and must keep track of who wants their egg soft boiled and who wants it cooked hard. Drop an egg and no one’s happy.
How do you keep your focus with so many demands and distractions? In the Executive Strategy Summit, we invest a substantial portion of the program on working with demand management and decision optimization.
Two key concepts to doing the right thing: managing your cognitive capacity and knowing what metric you need to move right now.
Cognitive Capacity Management
The most important resource you have as an executive is your cognitive capacity. You can only make so many decisions in a day, so executives know to preserve this for the most important issues. They keep their focus on the key question, refusing to be distracted by the demands of other, lesser decisions.
A few ways to maximize cognitive capacity: exercise, nutrition, and rest. Taking time to refresh and renew keeps you at your peak executive ability.
A few ways to maximize application of cognitive capacity: make key decisions when you are your brightest and best, ask a better question, and know that sleep clarifies the question.
Keeping your focus – even while reading this short article – means that you can round up the insights and energy to move your key metric.
The Key Metric to Move
The Theory of Constraints becomes a solid guide for deciding what metric to move now.
Key idea: look for the bottleneck that constrains business flow. Review your system for a frictionless customer experience, because where there is friction is where you’re leaking business.
For example, if you need more customers, identify where the deal flow gets stuck. Is it when triggering relevant conversations? Is it the product quoting process? Perhaps financing is where there’s a hang up.
Clear that blockage and watch the rest of the metrics move the right way, right away.
Unfortunately, in many entrepreneurial businesses, the business constraint is a chief executive who insists on being a part of every decision. Whether it’s because they’ve reached their cognitive capacity limit, don’t trust their team, or don’t have the mindset or toolset to make business leadership decisions, they’re stuck and so is the rest of the organization.
Need help with this? Let’s talk! I work with executives to get them comfortable pivoting to running a business instead of being the business bottleneck.