Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Benchmarking Mindset

A benchmarking Mindset is not Equal to"Bean Counting" mind.

Benchmarking is the process of comparing one's business processes and performance metrics to industry bests or best practices from other companies. Dimensions typically measured are quality, time, and cost. From thought leadership perspective, a benchmarking mindset does not just focus on “bean counting,” it is a problem-solving mind that can be strategic, interpretive, analytic and progressive.  Change agents with benchmarking mindset have the fact they need to convey the clear message for digital transformation and make continuous improvement.

A benchmarking mindset is progressive; begins with the end in mind focuses on solving problems. A benchmarking mindset use measure to facilitate timely problem solving, begin with the end goal in mind and then identify measures that indicate success along the way. Benchmarking helps create or renew a culture of managing by metrics via enabling periodic measurement and make continuous improvement. It’s a progressive mind for applying metrics, who constantly follow up on projects to validate whether they increase profit or improve efficiency.

A benchmarking mindset is interpretable  mind which can bridge the gaps: It’s a strong basis for continuous improvement. Benchmarking provides people across the organization with a common business language regarding processes, metrics, key issues, and outcomes. Get on the same page on measurable: the mutual agreement upon KPIs such as revenue generation, usage, and retention. Such benchmarking mindset can understand how to use the measurement to take actions and to communicate; how to interpret the variances in the measurements vs. the objectives (or targets), how to sort out the root cause of variances, how to react to what level of variances on the different indicators. 

A benchmarking mindset can be more strategic; leaders with benchmarking mindset can better define the right strategy for their organization by applying the effective tools to gauge where the organization leads, or lags; easily identify and prioritize business opportunities and assess risks systematically. Metrics are essential for people to raise their awareness, focus on what matters most, trust their skills, and decide on the action based on their observations and calculation. Any target, goal, objective, standard immediately introduces stress, fear, anger – all the things that interfere with high performance, good decisions, and right actions.

A benchmarking mindset is analytic and curious to question big WHYs: Analytics helps to define in a majority of cases what has happened in the past! A benchmarking mindset focuses on corporate Performance, and should be based on a sound and understandable vision and company strategy.
- Do know why you are collecting the metrics. 
- Establish a good root question. 
- Identify the purpose of the information and the stakeholders who will use it. 
- Ask whether the metrics can reveal anything meaningful for the identified purpose. 
- Give those responsible for collecting the metrics a reason for doing so. 
- Ensure management buy-in for the metrics collection process. 
- Use metrics as pointers to areas requiring further investigation. 
- Don't collect metrics for the sake of collecting metrics.

A benchmarking mindset continues to practice of being called 7"Cs" to measure SMARTLY: conceptualization, characterization, challenge, collection, control, construction, and conversion. It is useful looking at this exercise almost as a type of experiment where one hopes to gain results at the end. Like in all experiments, there has to be some sort of hypothesis - some sort of conceptualization of a useful outcome.

The benchmarking mindset faces the numerous challenges as well; because the "soft" things are difficult to measure DIRECTLY. People are struggling with measuring those things such as capability, motivation, cooperation, engagement, and culture. 
1) Talent: competence, cooperation, culture, satisfaction 
2). Ambiguity: Things that cannot be described clearly 
3). Complexity: Things that are complex with many dimensions 
4). Uncertainty: Things that don't happen 
5). Innovation: Things have creative nature
6). Things that uninformed, obstreperous leaders don't want to measure 
7) The mindset or purely psychological phenomena: human thought and motivation. 
What employee's really, really think. 

A benchmarking mind needs to be integrative by nature, it is strategic to begin with the end in mind; analytic to dig through the WHY or WHY NOT; progressive to make continuous improvement; and interpretive to clarify vision and communication.


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