What Gets Counted Gets Done

What gets counted gets done. And if you want to be done on time, you need to count the right things.

We often get sidetracked from the most critical work that we want to do because we aren’t putting the most important numbers right in front of our faces. The most important numbers aren’t always the most obvious one.

If you want to lose weight, the most commonly recorded and measured number is how many pounds you weigh. In reality, the most important numbers for you to know when you are losing weight is how many calories you ate, and how many calories you burned during exercise. A third, less relevant but helpful number, is how long since your weight loss journey started. If you reduce calories and exercise every day for an extended period, you will lose weight. Even if you never weigh yourself during the intervening time.

If you want to succeed in your project, you need to find those two or three things to focus on. I am going to open a project about connecting with people to understand what they need more clearly. I’ve talked about this project before, but I’ve never acted on it. I can measure how many people I have on my list to contact. I can measure how many emails I send out to try to get the contacts. But I’m going to have two simple metrics for this search. It will be:

  1. How many conversations I have with people.
  2. How many referrals I get to other people from these conversations. (Who else should I be talking to?)

My hypothesis is that if I have enough conversations, and have enough people connecting me with other people that they know, I will eventually have a clear enough picture of what people really need.

Side-Conversation

When you are making a dashboard for a project, you must also make sure that you aren’t focused too broadly. In my case, I will be focusing on working women in India. There are many reasons that I will limit my conversations there. If there is a project management problem that I can help solve for women, then I’m willing to help. If it turns out that I’m not needed, then I’ll look somewhere else. I don’t think that I’m going to have all of the answers; all I have to offer right now is my ability to have conversations.

The Dashboard

Here is my dashboard for my conversations.

Keep your dashboard simple. You don’t have to put targets on your dashboard, just what the current state is. The numbers that you put up on your dashboard are the ones that you will be pulled to meet.

What you count will determine what you accomplish. Make sure that you are counting the things that will drive your success.

Postscript

In a future post, we can talk about the right time to put targets on your dashboards. This is a note to myself to remember to talk about this at some point.