Choose the Right Levers

Choose the Right Levers

To achieve a goal you’ve never achieved before, you must do things you’ve never done before. Look around you. Who else has achieved this Goal or something like it? What did they do differently? Analyse carefully any barriers you foresee and decide how to overcome them. Use your imagination. What haven’t you thought of that might make a real difference? Then select the activities you believe will have the greatest impact on achieving the WIG (Wildly Important Goals): The 80/20 activities; which 20 percent of what you do has as much or more leverage on the WIG than 80 percent of what you do? Finding the right lever among many possibilities is perhaps the toughest and most intriguing challenge for leaders trying to execute a WIG.

One of the most powerful examples of leverage I have experienced came in the last few years when I was using 4DX to drive an increase in revenue for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME). I began by isolating a specific and measurable Primary Important Goal. Since “revenue” was too broad and represented virtually everything in the company (starting from the products and services to staff augmentation), I narrowed my focus to a more precise outcome: Increase the percentage of new customers (referred to as the conversion rate). The organization's leaders agreed that raising the conversion rate was the key to growth. The next challenge was determining which high-leverage behaviours would become lead measures capable of significantly driving this increase.

Initially, we developed a list of ten lead measures, and each department head was allowed to pick two from that list. We knew that if the department head could choose their own, they would feel more ownership of the result. We also knew that the best lead measure would emerge if the department head tried different approaches. In our analysis, we discovered that the top of the funnel was not an issue; it was the bottom of the funnel where the conversions were less than 1%. We calculated that if we could move the percentage from 1% to 5%, there would be a significant impact on the top line. We dug deeper and uncovered how the sales team pitched the product and services. We discovered that most of them were pitching the product features and busy justifying the comparison between their product and the competitor. That's when the most predictive of the lead measures became clearer after we investigated that one particular product had a better conversion rate. It was the one we would never have imagined. Suppose you think about your experience of buying a software product for your company.

In that case, you might expect increased conversion to be the friendliness of the salesperson, the availability of all the features and even the opportunity for a lower price. Certainly, these are factors. But it turned out that the most predictive behaviour for increased conversion was amplifying pain points. Let that fact sink in for a moment. Now imagine you’re responsible for procuring a new CRM for your enterprise where you see the sales team leaked many leads due to poor systems, processes, and the absence of a dedicated CRM.

On top of that, you have multiple stakeholders with different needs, distinct preferences for reporting and analysis, and a very limited tolerance for downtime; all you need is a comprehensive solution. At that moment, a salesperson approaches you and discusses the problem of how leads are leaked due to constraints, challenges and problems faced by the sales team and how an automated solution can help solve this leaking problem, including matching preferences and your budget. What would your reaction be, especially in an industry where customer service is often sacrificed for lower prices? My client found that the simple act of introspecting about the outcome of every single client call meeting translated into a better customer experience that not only improved the conversions but also created loyalty to the product. 

Once we recognized the full impact of this lead measure, it became standard practice in each client call. The sales head constructed a scoreboard identifying each salesperson and measuring the number of After-Action Reviews (AAR). At the end of the month, small prizes such as movie tickets and coffee-shop coupons were awarded to those with the highest numbers of AARs. In essence, they made a game out of measuring feet to drive conversion, a game that was engaging and winnable. When the final results were in, they not only achieved the Most important Goal, closed the X to Y gap across the organization, but tripled the percentage increase they were hoping for. Discipline is necessary for this outcome; along with talent, commitment, and hard work, it would not have been possible without the leverage of a predictive and influenceable lead measure.

The real insight of Discipline is this: Regardless of the outcome you’re seeking, a few actions or behaviours will create disproportionate results on your Most Important Goal. Working with your team, you can find and leverage these lead measures to produce extraordinary results. We’ll provide specific guidance on identifying and deploying your lead measures from our clients' lessons. Over the years, we’ve seen many leaders learn that an important key to execution is putting disproportionate energy against the leverage points by focusing on moving lead measures. If you have a big rock to move, you will need a highly predictive and controllable lever. The bigger the rock, the more leverage you will need.

About the Author

Dr. Parthiban Vijay Raghavan is an expert in solving an organization's complex problems through accurate diagnosis, designing, innovation, agility, and execution excellence. He is also expertise in Decision Making Process, Leadership Communication, OD, Learning Strategies, and implementation, He is a Certified OB/OD Professional.

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