Choosing the Right KPIs

October 25, 2021 Jamie Notter

If you want to hit the goals in your strategic plan, you have to be really good at metrics. Having the right KPIs (key performance indicators) is critical. KPIs are the metrics you track on an ongoing basis that will tell you if you are on track or off track to hit those long-term goals.

Some KPIs are relatively obvious—revenue, net revenue, membership numbers, etc. Most of us have been tracking these already. Keeping an eye on the basics of organizational health is obviously important. But these metrics don’t tend to drive your ongoing decision-making unless they get way off.

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You also need a set of metrics that you review at least once per week that will guide your more immediate decision making. In our Priority-Based Execution system, we help clients develop quarterly goals which, by themselves, are metrics (SMART goals always have a number attached to them), but we also help them develop some leading indicators—KPIs that tell you advance warning that you might not hit your target.

Clients always have some anxiety around choosing these metrics—what if we choose the wrong ones and go down the wrong path? The truth is, it’s not easy to pick exactly the right KPIs, but that’s why we are revisiting them on a quarterly basis. Each metric you choose that turns out to be a bit wrong is simply one step closer to the metric that is right. This iterative approach gets you more quickly to the right KPIs and builds your skill in analyzing the numbers in the first place.

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So don’t stress about your KPIs. Just get some in place and start building your skills.


Photo by Sajad Nori

Jamie Notter

Jamie is an author and growth strategist at PROPEL, where he helps leaders integrate culture, strategy, and execution to achieve breakthrough performance and impact. He brings twenty-five years of experience to his work designing culture-driven businesses, and has specialized along the way in areas like conflict resolution and generations. Jamie is also the co-author of three books—Humanize, When Millennials Take Over, and The Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement—and holds a Master’s in conflict resolution from George Mason and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown, where he serves as adjunct faculty.
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