Some actions simply have more impact than others and it is those that you want to identify and act on if you want to reach your goal. We call them lead measures.
Think of it this way: whatever strategy you’re pursuing, your progress and your success will be based on two kinds of measures: lag and lead.
Lag measures are the tracking measurements of the wildly important goal, and they are usually the ones you spend most of your time praying over. Revenue, profit, market share, and customer satisfaction are all lag measures, meaning that when you receive them, the performance that drove them is already in the past. That’s why you’re praying—by the time you get a lag measure, you can’t fix it. It’s history.
Lead measures are quite different. They are the measures of the highest impact things your team can do to reach the goal. In essence, they measure the new behaviors that will drive success on the lag measures.
Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures asks you to shift your focus from the lag measures that are behind you to the lead measures that are predictive of your future results.
When you implement Discipline 2, you start by identifying the one or two new behaviors that will have the greatest impact on achieving your goal. These new behaviors must be predictive of goal achievement, meaning that if you’re winning on the lead measures you will move the lag measure. They must also be influenceable, meaning that the team can take ownership for performing them.
Acting on the lead measures is one of the little-known secrets of execution.
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