I talk a lot about managing processes. Manage your process properly and the outcome is known, a common mantra for those of us that spend our lives working to improve business processes.

A funny parallel happened in my gym the other day that echoes this comment.

I was asked if I would like to take part in the ‘cross-trainer February challenge’. I’m OK on the cross trainer so I said that I would take part.

The challenge is a simple case of the most strides in five minutes is the winner for the month. So, being process orientated, I looked the current highest record and figured out how many strides per minute they had averaged and developed my strategy.

My approach was to change the cross-trainer’s mode to show ‘strides per minute’ and manage my performance based on this display. Long story short, I now have the record (until someone far fitter turns up, of course!).

Another person had a go at the challenge after seeing my effort. I watched their approach and they burned themselves out in the first minute. Afterwards they complained that they had no way of knowing if they were on track or not and got it all wrong. They asked me how I did it and I explained to them what I had done. They joked that this was cheating, but for me it is simply process management.

I knew what good looked like, found a measurement to regulate my effort and executed the plan.

OK, so I really want to get back into the gym and see if I can improve on my score, but my approach will be the same. I can work my performance backwards from the result I want and manage it from there.

Set a target – devise a plan – design a suitable measure (KPI) – execute

It certainly isn’t cheating and something that I advise my clients to do.

Are you using appropriate measures to help you manage the outcomes of your business?



Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their productivity and on time delivery performance. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-engineering and the creator of the Making It Happen toolkit.