"What are our KPIs for this?"
Do those words excite you? Confuse you? Make you rock back and forth with your knees to your chest, holding yourself and whispering, "it's all going to be alright"?
Seriously, we're so busy in Corporate America, we've lost the time to say full words. Instead, we spend our time memorizing extensive lexicons of acronyms. Terribly effficent. For those of you not speaking in tongues, let me save you a second of Googlage.
KPI is an acronym for Key Performance Indicator, and is often used in shorthand to ask this question:
What is success?
Most of the time, the answer to the success question is more. More money. More buyers. More sales. But not always. In some situations, success is defined differently. Maybe a partner, lawyer, or government agency is pushing you to make a change that will lose you money. In that moment, success is finding a way to say yes that doesn't screw your bottom line. Success is simply holding a line. Personally or professionally, sometimes success is simply exceeding an expectation. Sometimes, success may simply be getting out of pajamas for the day. Sometimes, success is absolutely NOT getting out of pajamas for the day. The bar is set by you.
Oftentimes, the upside of asking the question "What is success?" is in understanding expectations. For instance, blending a few of the above... Here's a work conversation that has never ever ever happened to me...
Stressed out co-worker: "This unnamed government agency (koff, FTC, koff) is demanding that we strip away our most successful sales pitch, and change it to something more... realistic."
Me: "Tough one. What is success here?"
Co-worker: "We'd like to change it completely by tomorrow and have it be even more successful. Oh, and we have this week to find the answer."
Me: "I'd like world peace, but let's start over with lowered expectations. What is success?"
If only I were so conversationally brave. Let's apply this to the Denver Nuggets, before the last four of you drop off, shall we?
Show of hands, Nuggets Nation, who believes your boys in blue will win the Championship in about 11-and-a-half months?
Fine. So what is success in this upcoming year? If you listen to some of the opinionmeisters at the Denver Post, the sky may be falling. Woody? Mark? Not that they don't make a point or two, but lighten up, guys. Get outside or something. Have an ice cream cone. Give it a second. Half of today's Denver Nuggets couldn't buy booze this last year.
Happily, the picture of success was quite different for Michael Malone at the end of last season, in an interview with the same paper's Chris Dempsey:
"... I think for our true fans, the fans that came every night and really study the league, they're going to say, ‘OK, you had more wins than last year, new coach, a lot of young players, a lot of injuries and we made improvements.' From the players, from management, from the people who have been around this team for a long time, the culture has changed. And people saw that from Day One. ... We would love to have won more games, but if you take out Wilson (Chandler), fourth in the NBA in games missed, starting the second-youngest lineup in the NBA, you're in the Western Conference — OK. Everybody had us going into the season — when we were healthy — maybe winning 26 games. It was a success. Next year, we have to continue to build on that and improve, and that's the goal."
Catch that part near the end? It was a success. I'd tend to agree. I want a championship banner in Denver as bad as the next guy. Things eventually broke in Cleveland for the Cavaliers this year, just like they did in Boston for baseball's Red Sox, and in hockey for the Bruins, and in football, for the Patriots...
And they already had the damned Celtics. Screw you, Boston.
Things will break for the Denver Nuggets some year, to the tune of a championship. I think. I hope. But right now, that measure of success is unrealistic. Truly, If the Nuggets were to win the championship this year, we're an overblown version of baseball's Miracle Mets. Or the NFL's Super Bowl III Jets...
Screw you, New York.
So, if we're not winning it all this next year, we may all have different expectations about those pesky Key Performance Indicators. So I ask you, what are your KPIs for the upcoming season, Nuggets Nation?
What is success?