Lead KPIs for Decision Makers that will increase focus & execution efficiency
by Andrew Lenti
In recent years, the topic of agility, flexibility and the ability to pivot to cater customer needs has become so popular that many companies have become counterproductive trying to prove to be an 'agile' organisation. In fact, in many cases, companies are downright failing as their decision makers continue to chase the shiniest flying object at arms-length reach while completely forgetting to execute on their mid & long-term commitments that they promised their company and its stakeholders only a short time earlier.
Having a strong dependency on our partner network consisting of consulting companies looking to leverage our technology and be our ambassadors in bringing our value offering to the market, we have seen our fair share of partnerships launch strong only to fizzle out as their leaders change gears midway through our collaboration. There are several reasons why this may happen but the majority of the time is due to lack of stamina and focus which results in our original roadmap getting binned thus wasting the time, energy and effort of our team and theirs.
If you are a true decision maker for which in each decision you make there is a significant impact on the workday of those around you, chances are that your list of things that you would like to do is far greater than the resources you have at your disposal.
It is important you are deeply aware of this fact and consider it in your planning.
Strategic focus in a digital jungle
‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’ - Steve Jobs
Consider the scenario of a CEO of a small company who succumbs to the allure of last-minute networking opportunities masquerading as game-changing collaborations. This penchant for the flavour of the month can inadvertently disrupt carefully laid plans causing misalignment and wasted resources. As CEOs find themselves ensnared in a web of digital distractions, the very essence of disciplined decision making can erode.
The concept of the "monkey mind," a term borrowed from Buddhist philosophy perfectly encapsulates the erratic nature of our thoughts. Like a restless primate swinging from branch to branch, our minds can lead us astray if left unchecked. While the monkey mind has its merits – fuelling creativity, innovation, and outside-the-box thinking – it can quickly become a double-edged sword. In a world awash with digital noise, it's easy to be ensnared by the next captivating idea, the next shiny object, and the next opportunity that promises immediate gratification.
For leaders, harnessing the power of the monkey mind requires a delicate balance. While it can lead to breakthroughs and novel insights, it must be tamed and directed toward a focused purpose. Steve Jobs' famous quote, "Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things," speaks to the discipline required to silence the distractions and channel creativity into a meaningful direction. It highlights how for every new opportunity put on your radar, you are reducing your level of focus, concentration, and quality dedicated to the outstanding commitments already promised to your team.
In other words, your 'monkey-mind' for which you often rely on to bring creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to your brainstorming sessions can also become your biggest enemy if you don't keep a tight watch on it. This is especially true in these times of great digital noise and distraction.
A Call for Disciplined Leadership
At the heart of disciplined leadership lies a commitment to finishing what you started. It's about resisting the allure of the "flavour-of-the-month" management style and redefining success beyond fleeting wins. Decision makers must lead by example, demonstrating the power of concentration, persistence, and resilience.
The discipline of focused execution extends beyond personal habits; it permeates the entire organisational culture. When leaders prioritize long-term objectives over short-term impulses, their teams are more likely to follow suit. By setting a precedent of steadfast commitment, decision makers instil a sense of purpose and direction that cascades throughout the organisation.
To succeed in business requires patience, stamina and concentration especially in execution. If you catch your decision makers allocating all of their efforts chasing last-minute quick wins without showing evidence of focus and discipline to their mid & long-term objectives, this is a big red flag that should be addressed at the board level.
In short, to win in business requires playing the long game. Similar to achieving excellence in the field of sport and athletics, business excellence requires daily dedication and leadership keeping your team focused on the wins that will come tomorrow from the sacrifices made today.
If your management team, in particularly your CEO is not ready to stay disciplined in providing the necessary daily housekeeping to ensure your company stays organised, nimble, and focused on the promises you made to your stakeholders, there is a good chance your company will stay mediocre at best until its last days which are likely to be sooner than later.
Lead KPIs for CEOs and other Decision Makers that will increase focus & execution efficiency
In today’s modern times, no one should be using spreadsheets as their foundation to their KPI reporting as the options to digitise and report performance in real-time are now endless.
This is great news for decision makers.
Gone are the days of guessing. With the right digital solution embedded in your company’s leadership strategy you can now easily quantify where your efforts are most valuable to the company and where they are costing the most time. In doing so, you will take action quicker and with greater confidence.
In my 8 years leading an operational excellence software-as-a-service firm I have developed and fine-tuned my own customised KPIs that allow me to stay focused on my strategic objectives which extend far beyond a professional setting.
By dedicating 5 minutes a day to observation and 1-hour a month to reflection, I have found the following Lead KPI set to work wonders on my concentration to stay focused in times of high distractions.
Lead KPIs for Decision Makers
• N° of reviews of open issues per strategic initiative (OKR)
• N° of minutes spent with clients
• N° of minutes spent with prospective clients
• N° of minutes engaged in structured, deep flow-focused R&D activities
• N° of minutes engaged in sport
• N° of minutes engaged in mindfulness / relax activities
• N° of minutes dedicated to back-office administrative housekeeping
• N° of minutes dedicated to operational readiness (e.g. ensuring our knowledge
archive is kept up-to-date & new clients are equipped with our latest job aids)
• N° of minutes dedicated to marketing & outreach
The Journey Towards Disciplined Excellence
In a world of ceaseless distractions and instantaneous gratification, the art of disciplined leadership stands as a beacon of unwavering commitment. CEOs and decision makers must recognize the perils of choice overload and the siren call of quick wins, while also acknowledging the power of their own "monkey minds." Harnessing the creative potential of the monkey mind requires tempering it with discipline, channelling its energy towards purposeful pursuits.
The integration of Lead KPIs empowers decision makers to navigate the labyrinth of choices with precision. By embracing metrics that underscore strategic commitment, value-driven pursuits, alignment, and execution resilience, leaders amplify their ability to shape a future defined by focused execution and enduring success.
In the relentless pursuit of business excellence, the path less travelled demands courage, resilience, and a steadfast commitment to finishing what one starts. As decision makers lead by example, they inspire their organisations to embrace the long game recognising that greatness is not attained through momentary victories but through the unwavering dedication to a vision that stands the test of time.
BONUS TIP: Swallow a frog daily to boost performance
The "swallow the frog" mentality is a concept often associated with time management and productivity. It refers to the idea of tackling the most challenging or unpleasant tasks first thing in the day, metaphorically referred to as "swallowing the frog," so that the rest of the day can be spent on more manageable or enjoyable tasks. Embedded in my close-of-day ritual for next-day planning is the swallow-the-frog activity schedule ensuring that prior to turning off my laptop, there is at least one ‘swallow the frog’ activity scheduled in my diary for early morning. By embracing this approach, you're setting yourself up for a day of meaningful accomplishments, enhanced focus, and a sense of achievement, ultimately leading to a more productive and fulfilling work routine.
Andrew Lenti has been working with multinational organisations in business transformation initiatives since 1999. In this time he has been based in six different European countries as well as two years of client service operational experience in the United States. Andrew is one of the co-founders of TOPP Tactical Intelligence Ltd, a European operational excellence software provider and one of the original architects of PRESTO Digital Enterprise, the all-in-one continuous improvement business management system currently being used on 3 continents by large and small organisations as a tool in performance governance for quality assurance and operational restructuring.