How to Find Your True Measure of Success


How do you measure success? This might feel like a difficult question to answer for most people. Your definition of success defines what things matter most to you. When you measure the wrong things, you will find disconnected results on the other side. Learning how to measure the right things will lead to the results you desire.

Some years ago when I was working for a major government contractor, I was running point on a couple of efficiency projects. What I found out was that most teams did not know what the measure of success was. What often happens is that people get so caught up with what's in front of them that they lost sight of what their measure of success was.

Start every project by finding the true measure of your success. Successful businesses are successful because they have created a great definition of success. This starts with the company's mission and flows down into the company's business goals. When your mission, your goals, and your measurements all align, you will enjoy spectacular clarity and success. In the words of [Peter Drucker], "you can't manage what you can't measure."

7 Ways For Measuring Success

You are not able to determine whether you are successful if you do not know what you are tracking. Follow these steps for measuring success on your projects:

1. Define Your Mission

What is the overall mission you are trying to achieve? Start every project by defining what the purpose is. Are you trying to "give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together"? Or are you trying to make "transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone."? Once you've established your mission, your goals and business objectives all will flow together.

2. Discover Your Values

Determine what values matter to you the most. What are some common values you want to establish before you start a project? For example, if you want to create a team that encourages new and innovative ideas, you might have a value of open-mindedness. Or if you want to make sure your team is empathetic to each other, you can list down compassion. List down all the values that are important to you and your team. Make sure you get a consensus on the values to live by.

3. Write Down Your Goals

A [study from Harvard Business School] found that people who write down their goals earn 10x more than their classmates. You can use quantitative or qualitative measures to create your goals. Once you have written down your goals, you can define success as the achievement of these goals.

4. Create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

After you have written down your goals, create the key performance indicators (KPIs) to track these goals. KPIs are performance measures that are easy to track your progress. For example, if you are operating a customer service department, customer satisfaction rates might be a great KPI to track your department's efficacy. Or, if you are in human resources, you might track employee turnover or employee satisfaction rating to determine how much people enjoy working at the company.

5. Track Your KPIs

When you've set up your KPIs, regularly check in on how they are performing. In fact, you should know these numbers like the back of your hands. If you've set up the right KPIs, they will be key to determining the financial success of your project. Use these numbers as your North Star for where you are tracking, and where you want to be.

6. Optimize Your Performance

As you are tracking KPIs, continue to optimize your performance. If you are able to improve performance by 1% every day, you are able to achieve massive long-term results. Always focus on what you can do in the long-run. Great things are never achieved in the short-term. However, on a long enough horizon, you can improve your project's performance through persistent effort.

7. Readjust Your Goals

You might realize that your goals are too easy or too unrealistic. In these instances, readjust your goals up or down as necessary. Make sure your goals are just challenging enough that it's fun, but not so challenging that it's demoralizing. When you find that happy balance, you will be excited to wake up every day to work.

Final Words

It's not always so easy to measure success. Find a mission you can be excited about, create a set of values to abide by and create goals and KPIs to drive deliver results. Never set out on a goal without creating a method of tracking your results. You are only capable of managing something you can measure. Creating a set of quantitative measurements and qualitative measures to define success. Numbers to help you find the truth.