Ping pong

Have you ever noticed the intensity difference when you play a game for fun compared to “playing for keeps?” Our family frequently plays Ping-Pong in our game room. It’s a fun and easy game for all ages. It’s easy and pretty relaxed to just volley back and forth, but there are visible changes once we start keeping score – greater intensity, better focus, more energy, and more winning shots. You can observe the same in any sport and certainly in your organization.

You have to keep score in order to know whether you are winning. You can keep score on your revenue, profitability, customer satisfaction, quality, prospect pipeline, cost per sales, employee engagement, defects, inventory, call-center response time, and so on. There certainly is no lack of things to measure.

To keep it simple, measure only what matters most. Do not measure everything. You can use the 80/20 principle here. Which 20 percent of the measures tell you 80 percent of the story? Those are the measures you want to track. Of course, if you are going to keep score, you need a scoreboard. You will want to design a scoreboard that is simple and clear, resonates with your team, and is easy to update. It’s also a chance to be creative and visual with your team.

Your scoreboard doesn’t have to be a lackluster summary of your monthly business report showing key measures. Use your scoreboard to tell a clear and compelling story in as few words and numbers as possible. Consider some of these scoreboard formats:

  • Visual thermometer with a rising mercury line to show progress.
  • Traffic light (red, yellow, and green indicators to show if you are off-plan, slightly off-plan, or on-plan, respectively)
  • A jar of jellybeans to illustrate percentage of completion.
  • Emoticons or visual indicators such as thumbs up/thumbs down next to each goal. (These work great for movie reviews and Facebook, so why not use them to help your team quickly see the score?)
  • A picture of an actual scoreboard to keep track of revenues, new deals, market share, customer referral, or whichever metrics are most important to your team.

Keeping your scoreboard updated is critical. If your scoreboard doesn’t contain the current score or is not seen as a reliable reflection of reality, it will no longer serve as a motivator, and it will lose its power to influence behavior. Your scoreboard must be current to be compelling.

Read Stick with It to see how Sears has taken the concept of score boarding to a whole new level. By taking cues from gaming hits like Angry Birds and Fantasy Football, Sears created a platform to “game-ify” the performance of key roles in its stores.