Pick ‘N Rolls, Play Action, and Data: Building Your Company’s Scoreboard



The next time you’re tuning into sports, pay close attention to the circumstances surrounding the data points on the scoreboard. Watch for John Wall’s pick ‘n rolls with Gortat for two points, or Tom Brady’s play action to Gronk for six points in the red zone.

While scores excite us and give us a bird’s eye view of a game, they don’t measure the intricate pick ‘n rolls or play actions by which a team gains a lead. Rather, scoreboards capture specific “metrics” that fans need to evaluate performance on the fly: points, assists, and rebounds.

In the business world, organizations need to properly identify metrics for their “scoreboards” that’ll help them draft the “plays” that’ll lead them to victory. No matter how big or small your organization is, identifying and tracking the correct metrics can help streamline your strategy, and provide the valuable insights needed to produce positive results and profits.

Choose the Right Data

As the great Renaissance Man, Peter Drucker once said, “It is a simple fact, what gets measured gets improved – it can enable good business development behavior, turn sales figures from good to great, and turn the whiners to shiners.”

But when building your scoreboard(s), make sure to pick the right metrics for individual groups or departments, and to connect them through various “shared metrics.”

Try not to become over-reliant on CRM metrics, which is easy to do. I recently met with an executive at a publicly traded firm and asked him how business was going. He answered, “Great… we have $8 billion of identified business in our pipeline, and over 1,200 folks in our business unit.”

Of course, this “scoreboard” always sounds good. But defining success based on a pipeline, and the number of employees you have is two BD versions of “vanity metrics” (read more about this below). Phil Jackson never said, “I need Jordan or Kobe to score 50 points to win a game.” He understood that teaching all his players to exploit the opportunities presented at each game was the key to winning.

In the previous example, an answer that would have gotten me excited would have been, “Ali, we are consistently working on a set of characteristics that align our company’s culture and strategy with the current external forces. Based on those characteristics, we consistently reinforce the behaviors, and that will sustain our future growth and profits.”

Avoid leading with CRM metrics, and focus on creating a winning culture within your business development organization.

To accomplish this, think about the metrics you need to: 

  • Boost sales
  • Acquire the right talent
  • Increase employee retention
  • Improve customer relationship

How to Choose Your Metrics

Don’t expect to be able to pick a percentage and call it logical. A good metric must meet a few conditions. In my previous blog, I suggested a few questions to ask yourself when approached by new business; to win in the long run, you must be able to evaluate and measure the quality of all your investments with metrics that embody your company’s core values and needs.

As government contractors, MetroStar’s success relies on winning inside the complex federal marketplace. We, therefore, developed and implemented rigorous stage reviews, like Shipley’s color reviews (we use a simplified version – I’m sure you’ve heard that one :) ), and invited a trained expert to help establish business development standards and best practices.

But it was (and still is) equally important for us to monitor the impact that these investments have on our team. We continuously monitor how our employees are growing in their roles, collaborating with one another, and nurturing innovation—aiming to improve on these as much as possible.

Here are ways that you can measure similar goals and reinforce their growth with meaningful metrics.

Keep in mind that metrics do not always mean numbers:

1. Listening: collaboration relies on clear, open communication that allows everyone’s voice to be heard. There are many metrics you can use to measure the effectiveness of communication, like your team’s productivity after meetings, or the quality of your ignite sessions.

2. Analyzing: This refers to your team’s ability to track performance across all your digital and physical properties. Identify both quantitative and qualitative data to measure regularly (both will be critical for educating your team).

3. Educating: Ensure that your team is always learning on the job. Don’t criticize and penalize based on simple metrics. Learn to dig deeper into performance numbers, and find their cause. Understand that different roles and responsibilities affect performance.

4. Reinforcing: Place the right metrics in the right context to reinforce the right behavior aligned to specific goals.

5. Sharing: The best ideas come from the exchange of ideas between individuals and teams (try this: have your sales team share their respective stories on daily standup calls to show how they attract business). Keep track of metrics that indicate when and how your team is talking with one another.

6. Innovating: Innovation does not just rely on technology. You need to include people, processes, and learning. Keep an eye on your team’s level of passion and commitment to your mission, alongside their creativity and performance in their roles.

7. Winning: A winning culture requires the ability to follow a consistent behavior and process. Ensure that your team is adopting the same disciplines that athletes need to execute smooth pick ‘n rolls of play actions in a game.

Warning: Watch Out For Vanity Metrics

Remember that your scoreboard exists to provide the essential measurements that reflect the honest condition of your company and/or strategies.

Guard yourself against vanity metrics, or the metrics that appear nice to have but offer little to no visibility into your actual performance.

An example of vanity metrics: let’s say your marketing team created a YouTube video to showcase your company’s capabilities and it gets 10 million views. Although 10 million views are nothing to scoff at and may accurately indicate increased brand exposure, views alone are vanity metrics. They don’t reveal how those views accumulated, or how views may convert into leads.

Another example: if you’re a government contractor, you’re familiar with pWin (probability of win). I hate to break it to you, but this alone is a vanity metric. Your pWin is just a number that holds little importance until you’re able to identify its cause. If your pWin is low, are you pursuing bad relationships? How is the quality of your proposals? If your pWin is high, are you deepening your relationships and satisfying your clients? Question why, and always strive to improve.

Remember those actionable insights, like the notes that coaches jot down as they evaluate their players’ performance by the film. This allows you to learn something from your numbers and make sure that you're not just celebrating over the 10 Million views, or that pWin, but also assessing the impact they have on your future.

Want to talk more?

Tweet me @amanouch110 to continue the conversation.