Recently, I watched Miracle, one of my favorite movies. It’s about the miracle on ice that happened in the 1980 Winter Olympics when Team USA defied all predictions, beat the best hockey team in the world and won the gold medal.
It was such a stunning upset that the International Ice Hockey Federation chose it as the number one international hockey story of the century.
Being from Minnesota, the story holds a special value for me. Herb Brooks, the USA head coach and 11 of the 20 players were from Minnesota. (Nine from my alma mater.)
And while the story has a lot of useful lessons, I mention it today because it can help us see the value of keeping score.
At one point in a critical game, Team USA was behind with only a few minutes left in the game. Faced with a “do or die” situation, coach Brooks pulled the USA goalie and added another offensive player. This extra pressure was just enough to help them score and keep them in the game.
Every player knew how important the score was. It determined their future.
If coach Brooks had not known they needed one more goal to tie and two more to win then he would not have pulled the goalie. The players would not have put in the extra effort to win. They were able to focus and perform because they understood their most important metric: SCORE.
If you play, watch or coach sports you get this. If players and coaches don’t understand the metric we call “score” then the game (any sports game) would be thrown into chaos.
It’s such a simple idea. Yet every day millions of businesses operate like a sports team that does not know the score of the game. In fact, many never even understand how their “score” is measured.
If you manage a company, division, agency, team or any other organization, you need to have a metric as simple and as important as the score used by sports teams.
And you need to make sure everyone in your organization knows:
1. What the metric is.
2. How important it is.
3. How they affect it.
Could a hockey coach ask their players to play their best without know the score? Yes. But should they expect to win? No. Absolutely not.
Lacking a primary performance metric, players will have less focus and less motivation. Their performance will suffer and so will the team’s success.
In the business world, ask any sales manager: Who makes more sales, people with quotas or those without?
So, as a manager, how do you keep score?
You can use whatever metric is appropriate. Maybe it’s revenue. Maybe you look at profits or growth. I like capacity utilization because it helps management make better decisions.
Whatever metric you choose to keep score, make sure you do these things:
1. Make it simple (like a hockey game score)
2. Share it with your entire team (so they can use it)
3. Explain why it’s important (so they want to use it)
4. Make it part of your culture (so it’s a requirement, not a luxury)
5. Stick with it (so people take it seriously)