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Success is perhaps one of the very few things in life we can all as human beings agree that we desire. Yes success differs from one person to another in terms of what they associate with as success and the actual nature of the accomplishment but the feeling is pretty much the same. That sense of joy and pride that comes along with achieving our goal.

Because of that, we are always figuring out how close or far off we are from success and we’re doing everything we can to edge closer towards it. That for instance, is why consistent measurement of success is a top priority in any business.

How do we measure success in business though? It is almost always a number that we try to reach, and that number is almost always associated with a monetary value like a sales target for example. Not only that, but said number also needs to be achieved within a certain time frame, in many cases a fiscal year for example.

So, What’s the Problem?

The issue here is that the measure of success is in most cases, solely based on the result but it does not often investigate how that result was reached. This is ok for one-time goals that do not need to be consistently met or repeated. However, if consistency is an important element here, then measuring how success was reached should also be an important part of the formula.

So let us assume a couple of teams within a company have been tasked to reach an overall score of 120 points within 12 months and below is a graph showcasing their performance throughout the year.

Now if we were only concerned with the end result to identify success, then team 2 would be the clear winner here. Not only where they able to reach the required figure, they even overachieved by 10 points whereas team 1 fell short by 10 points.

Team 2 clearly wins while Team 1 misses out. Team 2 will be celebrated and be shown as the example to follow while team 1 might be subject to performance questioning.

What lies behind the scenes

However, upon taking a closer look on the performance, you will see that Team 1 has been on a consistent upward trajectory throughout the entire 12 months. One more month and they would have hit the target. Two more months and they would have overachieved. Team 1 was able to sustain consistent momentum towards the intended goal. It is a sign of a healthy mentality and effective leadership.

Team 2 however was highly inconsistent. Peaks in performance were often followed by concerning dips. If you check the numbers from July to November, they were worryingly low. Classic signs of a team that is being overworked or over-utilized which initially produces misleading promising results but then they are almost always followed by a burnout period of low performance. This is not a sustainable model and chances are, this success will not be replicated during the following year and may even be replaced by utter failure.

Most of our current methods of measuring success though will promote Team 2 over Team 1, that is until Team 2 completely burns out and by that time, Team 1 would possibly have become demotivated for not being rewarded or even worse, for being questioned and doubted.


We haven’t got it all wrong

We’re not suggesting re-inventing how we measure success though, the end result is still a crucially important factor but what we might want to do, is increase the number of factors we examine when measuring overall success. This does not only apply to just business, but it should also apply to our life in general and how we view our success and our achievements.

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