Apr 01 2014

I was recently in a daily performance review where the team was struggling to achieve their expected performance on a certain KPI. They then said it’s OK, we’re going to change the expectation for the KPI to make it easier to achieve, and hence to be green instead of red on the dashboard!

Well, I can assure you I found it difficult not to burst into tears; of laughter or despair I’m not sure which. I held my tongue to not disturb the flow and then at the end sat them all down & explained the error in their ways.

Now, I am not saying that there are not times when it may be appropriate to adjust or modify the expectations/objectives of certain metrics &/or KPIs. Sometimes they are too strict, unrealistic or too far-reaching (stretched). However, in most cases, they are set correctly and it is right for them to be “red” to require action to turn them green.

I believe that if there is too much green on the dashboard, then you are either lying to yourself, or not challenging yourself enough. Either way, you are the one who loses. The purpose of KPIs is to ensure we hit business targets, the IMPORTANT ones. If they are not important than why have them up there, if they are, is it then logical to adjust them to ensure they are green? NO!

Having red is not a bad thing, although we tend to find it difficult. Often a feeling of failure if we’re not green spreads throughout the team, but in reality, it should be seen as an opportunity to improve, an opportunity to solve a problem. If we are always green, are we really building, growing & otherwise improving our business, or are we settling for the easy life, the life of stagnation, where the rest of the world is passing us by?

Being green feels good, and red feels bad, but growth comes from adversity, not the lap of luxury.  If you want to improve your business, you’ll need to get comfortable with being red, with missing targets, if you’re not – how much better could you do if you pushed for more and risked being red?


Of course Dilbert demonstrates the above in a slightly different way – rather than adjusting the target, they just stretch the truth, well beyond breaking point – thanks for that Scott Adams.

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