And The Blind CEO Shall See . . .

Performance vs PotentialThat Account Exec at the water cooler dresses sharp and has a snappy haircut. She must be hitting her goals, right? Well, if a key performance indicator is “looking good,” she’s acing it. But our eyes can fool us.

As CEO, you may poke your head out of your office door to see cubicles full of people feverishly busy. But busy work and hard work aren’t the same thing. In fact, you really can’t see much of anything as you survey your team — at least nothing of real value.

If you look out and the room is quiet and the energy low, does that mean everyone is playing Word with Friends™? Not necessarily. Your team may be in the zone, focusing diligently on goals. We tend to associate high energy and activity with productivity, but you don’t want to base next month’s forecasts on what you see from your office door. In fact, to get some clear insight on performance, you may need to put on blinders.

When Decision Toolbox went 100% virtual in the early 2000s, the entire leadership team suddenly had blinders on. You know what? It was one of the best things that ever happened to the company. We had to come up with ways to monitor performance. In a virtual model you need to monitor performance even more closely than in a sticks-and-brick office.

Most companies track metrics and some are highly metrics-driven. Even if that describes your company, put blinders on for a day. It will help you find out what you don’t know. For example, you may have a best-in-class, real-time financial dashboard. But that doesn’t tell you exactly what your biz dev team is doing today, or how things are flowing in operations.

You don’t have to track every single activity. In fact, if a metric doesn’t add some sort of value, don’t invest time and energy tracking it. The blinder exercise can help you determine what’s important.

By the way, I’m not saying you shouldn’t take advantage of intuition, gut feelings, emotional intelligence, or other non-metric insights. Trust them, and then triangulate with the metrics.

You may be basing decisions on assumptions instead of data, without even realizing it. Put those blinders on . . . and see.


Kim Shepherd
Kim Shepherd
AS CEO of Decision Toolbox, Kim Shepherd leads the company’s growth strategy, primarily through developing partnerships, alliances and as an active member of the Los Angeles and Orange County human resources community. A recognized thought leader by HR organizations nationwide including the Human Capital Institute, Kim is a regular speaker at national and regional events on various business models. Kim joined Decision Toolbox in 2000, and brought her unconventional approach to the company she had admired as a client. Today Decision Toolbox is 100% virtual, with more than 100 team members working remotely across the U.S. This company is a Certified Women’s Business Enterprise. This unique business model has played a key role in the company being awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Decision Toolbox was also named one of the "Fastest Growing Private Companies" by the Orange County Business Journal in 2012. In addition, they have been named 3 years running to the INC 500/5000 List of Fastest Growing Private Companies and have been a 7-time recipient of the HRO Today’s Baker’s Dozen for Midmarket and Emerging Markets. Calling Kim unconventional is an understatement – her former endeavors include 10 years as a TV and Foreign Correspondent, a stint at Club Med and a near miss at a spot on the Olympic ski team. Kim is an active member of the Adaptive Business Leaders Executive Roundtable and the National Association for Women Business Owners (Orange County Chapter). She served on the Executive Board of Trustees for Girls Incorporated of Orange County and is also the Board Chair for Working Wardrobes. She is also a former member of Impact Giving. Kim is the recipient of the National Association of Women Business Owners (Orange County Chapter) 2013 Innovator of the Year Award, the 2014 Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year, and the 2015 Family Matters Award from WomanSage.

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