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Originally published 24 June 2009
Beginning a performance management initiative from scratch can seem like a daunting task. Where do you start? What are obvious pitfalls you should know about? You might go to a bookstore and look for a guide, but so many exist and each promises guaranteed success by doing exactly the opposite as the other foolproof method in the book next to it.
You could bring in the strategy consultants and have them guide you. An efficient yet costly solution and, truth be told, if you start from scratch you will be spending a lot of time doing your homework with them. Strategy is needed, and a good consultant to guide you along the way is worth his weight in gold (although I might be a bit biased here), but you really need to know what you want before he/she can really start to help you.
So where do you start? The best way, in my experience, is to start from a mockup strategy or dashboard. Take a topic that is well known to your participants but is not politically charged. We want them to focus on the methodology and not so much the content, if we take real-life examples we can get stuck in business discussions. We want this later on, but not at this stage.
An example we have used in the past that worked really well is to create a strategy or dashboard around making the business friendlier to the environment. Of course this only works if you don’t have any such initiatives already running in your business.
Such an example will allow your businesspeople to understand key terms and important pieces of the methodology without getting them mixed up with day-to-day business issues. It creates a real enough setting so the work does not seem over the top and people are usually passionate about the topic so audience participation is not really a problem.
This way you can explain the benefits of dashboards, the idea behind key performance indicators, the difference between an action and an initiative. You can spend time contemplating what is important to measure and if it would at all be possible. You can even come up with a strategy and goals for the long and short term.
Once you manage this, you can send the participants home with the task to do the same thing for their own departments or for the company. This should be your first step to create awareness and understanding about performance management so you can get a buy-in from your business. And hey, you might even end up getting a green strategy initiative going!
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