Tuesday 29 November 2016

Are your KPIs inspiring positive change?

The challenge when developing workshops is to ensure that the sessions and breakouts embed new knowledge and insight for the delegates. Insight that means delegates go back to the office with changed mindsets, behaviours, ways of doings things or knowledge.

We’re all familiar with death by powerpoint, avoiding that therefore isn't that difficult to do! Developing breakouts is a little trickier, and certainly worth experimenting with.

A recent exercise for KPIs was one such example, and wonderfully helped bring the key learning points alive (even if I say so myself).

In order to have an experience of monitoring the KPIs they'd developed I asked the group to develop KPIs for the supplier management workshop that we could measure daily.

They thought they'd developed SMART and unambiguous KPIs that would drive the right behaviour, and certainly not get in the way of them achieving their stated objectives for the workshop. What we learnt however is, that even with the best intentions, KPIs can easily be counter productive or confusing.

Ambiguity of the KPI
One KPI suggested that 80% of delegates needed to get one 'a-ha' a day. 

As the workshop progressed the definition of an 'a-ha' was refined to include: something you'll do differently as a result of the workshop, an insight, something new, something that's made you think and so on. 
We discussed the % at which we'd be worried - ie 80% took the training from green to amber. What % took the assessment to red, and in need of urgent action?

Not linking KPIs to the outcome you want
Of course a-ha's are not necessarily the things that drive a change in behaviour - which is why I always ask "what will you do differently as a result of the workshop". Which could be better measured a week or month after the workshop, as delegates are asked to reflect on what changes they've noticed themselves making. Or even better their manager is asked to identify positive changes they've noticed,

Not applying weights to KPIs
We explored the impact if the above KPI did dip into red on one day - did that mean the workshop was a disaster? 

We felt the survey monkey to be sent after the workshop would hold a bigger weighting of whether the workshop was a success or not. Which meant we questioned whether there was value in monitoring a-ha's every day at all.

Responsibility for achieving the KPI is one way
I often call the a-ha's light bulb moments. 
We discussed whether it's only the content, and the trainer who has the ability to impact the achievement of these light bulb moments: Lack of clear personal goals for the workshop, distractions, resistance to change, false understanding of current competency level, and even not eating the right things, or drinking enough water can all have an impact on the attention of the delegate. As I touched on yesterday the heating in the room can also impact attention.

Which points to ensuring that the KPI's are seen as the responsibility of all parties involved not just the supplier. After all, if as a trainer I'm just chasing the big a-ha's, my sole focus on this may impact other areas of the training, and the delegates may not take responsibility for their attention and interest to ensure opportunities for a-ha moments are not missed.

KPIs that motivate wrong action
One KPI suggested time keeping needed to be 9-5 +/- 10 minutes. 

This resulted in a conversation about my ability to start before 9, and how many of the delegates would need to missing for me to not start on time, and was that fair to monitor me on something that was being impacted by their actions?  

It was interesting however to observe my behaviour. 

As we came to the end of day 1 I noticed the time was 1647 and said I'd keep in talking until 1650 in order to meet my KPI! A silly example I know, and yet such a great example that if we're not careful our KPIs can drive counter productive behaviours. 

KPI's that don't flex to suit the day to day agreements being made between both parties 
Due to flights on the final day meaning we wanted to leave a little earlier than stated, we extended day 2 by 30 minutes. We realised therefore that the wording of the above KPI needed to state 'agreed time' not to state the precise time. Otherwise we failed to meet the KPI for no reason than it was assumed that every day started at 9 and finished at 5.

The conversation about KPIs then touched on procurement KPIs that also provided examples of the above points:
  • Budget reduction targets when procurement don't own the budgets
  • Savings targets against first quote which mean suppliers could be asked to ensure they don't put in a good first quote, or are asked for quotes earlier in the process than we should
  • Savings KPIs that only monitor forecast saving, and don't go on to measure actual benefit delivered
  • Lack of any balanced scorecard with focus purely on savings   
Once you've developed your KPIs how will you ensure they drive positive not negative change in your suppliers or procurement team?

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Inspiring change inside and out

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