Measurement Defines the Goal

In thinking about the impact of measurement on accomplishment, I read 50 books and listened to 10 more last year because I kept track of them and thus was able to reach my goal. I know I would not have accomplished that without the record-keeping, as tedious as that may be. Simply because measurement is tedious and boring does not make it worthless, in this as in so many things.

Some things simply cannot be measured – customer loyalty, for example. Reichheld wrote, “what gets measured ‘creates’ accountability. With no standard, reliable metric for customer relationships, employees cannot be held accountable for them and so overlook their importance” (2006, p. 17). Instead of measuring the quality of our customer relationships, all we can measure is time and expense, which are inadequate descriptors. While we can resolve to devote a particular amount of time to an activity there is no way to ensure that the time is well-spent.

Fans of Eliyahu Goldratt will recognize this as a common theme in his books (The Goal, The Haystack Syndrome, It’s Not Luck, Reaching the Goal, Beyond the Goal, Critical Chain, Theory of Constraints, and especially Measurement Nightmare). I love Goldratt because his style is so easy to read, unlike, for example, Clayton Christensen’s denser prose.

Goldratt provides in-depth business research and analysis in the context of a fictional company. In The Goal, he uses a Socratic-method system to address constraints or bottlenecks in manufacturing. As the characters discuss the issues, the reader is learning about the keys to enhancing productivity through improved communication.

Clayton Christensen’s books, from The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997) to the most recent Competing Against Luck (2016), are no less valuable but tend to be a much more difficult read. They are more theoretical than Goldratt’s fictional application of business doctrine to particular problems.

Alternatively, Fred Reichheld’s The Ultimate Question (2006), combines the readability of Goldratt with the solidly-grounded business analysis of Christensen in discussing how to reach the goal of achieving measurable and meaningful performance objectives. Doing so is a never-ending quest, and business leaders as well as academics will continue to spend our lives searching for meaningful metrics. Reichheld spends much of his time addressing “bad profits,” which are profits earned at the expense of customer relationships. In short, you can rip a customer off but are unlikely to maintain the relationship after profiting at the customer’s expense.

All three authors are great, but Reichheld has something unique to say which all of us in business will do well to hear – short-term profits are often long-term disasters.

How To Keep From Crashing When The Engine Stops

The single-engine Cessna 172 was about 1,500 feet above the Pacific Ocean when that engine stopped.

I still don’t know why it stopped. All I know is that I was the pilot and the sole occupant of the plane. I had just taken off from a small airport in Western Washington. The pre-check had been routine. The takeoff had been uneventful. The sky was blue, the wind was calm. It was a beautiful day for flying.

And then the engine stopped.

What would you do? How do you react when the pressure’s on? How can you make sure you’re at your best when it matters most?

Leaders face pressure all the time. Pressure from above to deliver results. Pressure from below to motivate and inspire. Pressure from the clock. Pressure from the budget. And, of course, pressure from the “real world” outside of the workplace: the spouse’s upcoming surgery, the kid’s braces, the car’s flashing “CHECK ENGINE” light. And a leader is expected to produce under pressure, no matter where it comes from.

Some of these pressures are predictable, like the report that’s due every Monday at 9 am. Some are unpredictable, like when the single engine of the airplane you’re piloting stops at 1,500 feet above the Pacific Ocean. But the answer to both is the same:

Preparation.

Anyone who’s ever trained for a pilot’s license will tell you that that training includes dozens and dozens of simulated “engine out” exercises. The instructor, without warning, pulls the engine back to idle and says, “Your engine’s just gone out; where are you going to land?” Do this drill often enough, and it becomes a part of your subconscious. To this day, when I’m flying commercially from one speaking engagement to another, I’ll sometimes look out the window and ask myself, “If I were flying this plane and the engine(s) went out, where would I land?”

That’s how you produce under pressure. That’s how you ensure you’ll be at your best when it matters most. You practice. Over and over again. You do mental drills. “What would I do if there’s a delay in the supply chain?” “What would I do if my number one producer got an offer from our biggest competitor?” You prepare.

Pilots routinely prepare for the unexpected. So do professional athletes. And military commanders. People whose jobs require them to produce under pressure are continuously preparing.

Shouldn’t you be too?

When my engine stopped, I went into “automatic react” mode. I trimmed the plane for maximum glide ratio. I tried a restart. When that didn’t work, I initiated a 45-degree bank turn back to the runway-not knowing if I would make it or not, but knowing that this angle of bank gave me the most distance relative to altitude loss. I mentally went over the procedures in case I had to perform what is humorously called a “water landing.”

Fortunately, my calculations worked, and I made it back to the runway (with just inches to spare).

But it wasn’t due to luck. It was due to preparation.

So-what will you do when your engine stops?

The Writer As A Marketer

Should aspiring or professional writers see themselves as marketers? This is a personal question that you alone should answer, not me.

I am sure you can mention a thousand and one reason people aspire to write. It could be for pleasure, fame, money, education, inform or entertain or whatever.

So, while one writer may not be interested in making money, but educating the readers, another may want to make all the money on earth. No general rule here.

I have said it over and over again; a good writer is a wordsmith. It is good to read anything and everything under the sun.

But, the journey to becoming a good writer comes with practice, practice and more practice. I have said this in my earlier articles.

Let us look at the writer as a marketer. The business side of writing, if you wish to call it so. Just like me, I am sure you too need extra income. Please, don’t laugh, only smile.

Yes, you sell yourself, your script, your books, your articles to the entire world as a writer.

In this modern age, people and nations are looking out for where individuals and nations are searching for specific information, solution, ideas, values, etc.

So, writers must strive to fill the gap, provide solutions, add values and solve problems using the writing words for their target market or audience.

I do not know about others, But, I do know as a writer, a journalist that making money comes with real hard work.

I have abandoned my family for the computers and the internet, researching, reading, browsing and having sleepless nights these days.

Truth is that my wife and daughter understand. Do they? God knows they do. Ho ho ho ho oh.

But, am I making money? Good question, but I will answer it, ha ha ha ha ha. Seriously though, writers must begin to look at the business sides of writing, if they have not already done so. I am guilty of this.

Write, tell the entire world and sell your product over time. Yes there could instance hit where you will make millions in local or foreign currencies selling your books, script, articles, novels, whatever.