Using 50 KPI's to Measure Waste


For starters, if you are thinking about paying a PR outfit to promote your book or whatever else you might be peddling to the business community, think again. I get bombarded – I mean a couple dozen a day – with email from PR folks with a suggestion for blog content; always another former CEO or a consultant with some cockamamie new buzz word or “The 10 Secrets to Outrageous Profits”. They are 100% deleted, and most of them have nothing whatsoever to do with manufacturing, lean or anything even remotely related to the sorts of things I write about. I am merely another number on the list of ‘influential bloggers’ on the mailing list some PR outfit is selling.

This one, however, stuck, but I suspect not for the intended reasons:

Someone by the name of Keira Rodriguez – a Senior Media Strategist, no less – with a PR firm in New York wrote to me pitching a story. “The story is about how marketers can answer the ‘what’s my marketing ROI?’ question swiftly and accurately and how this data is delivered to the people making decisions in the C-Suite. Imagine a system that takes businesses big data – across the many different systems and silos - and harmonizes it against 50 interdependent KPIs to determine marketing's contribution to the business.”

I never thought it possible to put that much absurd drivel into one statement.

Marketing ROI? I didn’t know a non-value adding function is capable of creating a return on investment.

50 KPI’s? KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator … if you have 50 key performance indicators you clearly have no idea what the keys are to your performance.

But the real hoot is the system that links all of the silos. Why not just get rid of the silos and put those people on the same team aligned with the rest of the business to create real value … for customers?

The answer to this obvious question is that sales and marketing folks (for all of their supposed creativity) seem to be by and large capable of envisioning a world without them.

Also today in the Harvard Business Review blog is a bit of equally inane drivel entitled “Why Sales and Marketing Don’t Get Along.” In it a Professor Emeritus – no less - of Marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management explains how, “Some tension between sales and marketing is healthy and productive.” There you have it in a nutshell – excellence through Darwinism – silos breed adversarial relationships and the ensuing battles assure that the best ideas win.

He adds, “Sales pushes for competitive pricing; marketing ensures that the company uses discipline in pricing.” In other words, left on their own sales folks will give away the store without Big Brother in Marketing to keep them legit. But, “Marketers are locked in the ivory tower. Their plans look good on paper, but don’t work with real customers.” So, without Sales grounding them in reality Marketing will steer the company off into theoretical Neverland.

Since neither Sales nor Marketing can be trusted to make sound decisions on their own, we need functional silos to pit them against each other. Two half-assed departments make one whole …. well, you get the point.

And this is the sort of stuff the serious Sales and Marketing profession passes off as leading edge advice. It can be a bit depressing to read all of this and see just how detached from lean thinking the sales and marketing profession generally is.

The good news – and you should give the ATC Value video another look – is the enormous advantage the companies have that do achieve value stream alignment. While the rest are fiddling around with 50 SAS driven KPI’s keeping score of who is winning the ongoing fight between sales and marketing folks, these companies are out selling real value and gobbling up market share.

When you take another gander at the ATC video, you might want to take note of Lucas – the guy about a minute and 50 seconds or so into it who explains the value stream concept. He is the Marketing Director at ATC and the primary architect of the video. I suspect he generated more ROI from the marketing function in driving the value stream strategy than all of the aforementioned experts combined in their entire careers … and I’ll also bet not a one of those 50 KPI’s measures what Lucas has done.

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