Strategy

27th October 2015

Compelling Scoreboard 2

Who owns the scoreboard? Well that depends on who writes on it. If the team write on it, and ideally write their own scores on it the chances are it will be owned by them.

Some years ago a friend rang me. He said he had just been given a new job. He was moving from being a motorbike mechanic, and an excellent one, to his first ever role as a salesman. His question was simple. He asked, ”Ian after all your years in the business what would be the one tip that you would give me?”. I thought about it and this is the answer I gave him.

“Dave take a piece of graph paper.” I said. “Every time you sell a bike mark off a square. You can put the customer’s name and the registration number in the square, when they pay for the bike you cross it through diagonally left to right and when you have delivered the bike you cross it through on the other diagonal.”
I could here the disappointment in his voice. “Is that it?” he said, “is that the best you can offer?”. I held firm and said “Dave just try it and let me know what happens. Oh and Dave be sure to pin the sheet up on the wall next to your desk. You might think about one column for new bikes and one for used. Do whatever seems right for you, and let me know how you get on.”

A week or so passed and Dave rang me again. “How is it going?” I asked. He told me how he had started selling a few bikes. It was slow at first but every time he sold a bike he would create another square on the graph paper, as the column grew so did his confidence.

“You will never guess what happened,” he said. “Go on, tell me” I replied.“Well, you know Grahame, the salesman who has been here a long time? He saw the chart and asked me what it was all about. I told him I wasn’t sure exactly but it was something that you had told me to do, so I was giving it a go. I explained what I did with the graph paper and how the two columns had grown during the month. You can imagine that Grahame’s comments weren’t too complimentary and so I was amazed a couple of hours later when I saw that Grahame had put a very similar graph up next to his desk. He said he was going to try it too.”

“His graph was a bit taller than mine, but not much. And every time I chalk up another sale I let out a bit of a cheer, just to wind Grahame up a bit and every so often we sneak a peek at each other’s graph to see who is doing best. It has become quite competitive in a way, and the banter in the sales team probably means that next month the other lads are going to join in and keep their own graphs too.”

And so another compelling scoreboard was born and everyone benefits. Dave benefits because he can see how he is progressing and with every additional square his confidence grows. Next month he will want to build a higher column than this month. He will want to out perform his colleagues, and just as importantly he can see all of his deals in front of him all of the time, who has paid and what is yet to deliver. Grahame and the rest of the team benefit in the same way and of course there is that element of competition spurring everyone on to out perform each other. Their individual scoreboards combine to make up the team’s scoreboard, which becomes a focal point for them as a team.

The sales manager benefits because not only are his sales team in friendly competition, but he can see immediately when a sale has been made and who is doing best. We know that recognition is one of the best motivators in the business and the scoreboards allow instant and genuine recognition to take place easily and effortlessly.
The company benefits because all of the sales team are focussed on their own and their collective performance, and of course the customers benefit because the organisation is naturally focussed on making every sale it can and being sure every potential customer has the very best chance to buy a motorbike.

It is a win: win all around. It isn’t rocket science. It is a compelling scoreboard. It rests upon the two principles of visibility and ownership. The most important of which is ownership. Dave owned his graph, and when Grahame decided to join in, it was his choice, and consequently he owned his graph. It became a game. It was fun. It was competition and banter. Eventually everyone else was on the bandwagon too and as a consequence the whole culture changed. People were having more fun and more of a sense of direction and purpose.

None of this would have happened had the sheet been locked away in a drawer. Visibility and ownership are the two principles that underpin the power of a compelling scoreboard.

The compelling scoreboard is one of the most powerful tools you can employ in any business.