Sunday, January 16, 2022

What Separates "Vital Few Metrics" from "Nice to Know" Metrics - And What Can We Learn from Tom Brady...

 I was reading an article about Tom Brady today in the Washington Post and it led me to think about metrics in supply chain.  How could that possibly be, you ask?  What does how a quarterback preforms in football have to do with supply chain?

First, in case there are those who do not know who Tom Brady is I would just ask you to google him.  Whether you like him or not as a fan you have to respect all that he has accomplished.  We literally likely will not see another like him in our lifetime, or maybe ever, as it relates to football and longevity.  9 super bowl appearances,  7 titles and 13 AFC Championship games.  When everyone thought he was done, he went off to Tampa Bay where he promptly won another super bowl.  ( I will not list them all here but if you want to know all the records he holds, I found this website).

The article in the Washington Post was titled: Tom Brady is telling his own story and doing it at his own pace(May require firewall).  The general theme was the success of Tom Brady (Besides raw talent - which a lot of NFL QBs have had and have been far less successful) can be boiled down to just a few items:

  • His ability to focus on the mission in front of him. 
  • His ability to ignore all the noise around him in terms of success (fan noise, social media noise, trappings of fame noise).
  • His discipline in controlling his time.  Everyone wants a piece of his time but he rarely provides it.  He does not have to be everywhere. 
He trains in February to win the Superbowl a year later.  That is what we would call medium to long term thinking and that is what metrics allow us to do in supply chain.  If we focus on a few, remove all the noise by ignoring the "nice to know", eliminate our natural FOMO (Fear of missing out) instincts, identify the critical outcome (spoken in the terms of a customer) and then relentlessly monitor and improve, we can be like Tom Brady and win a lot of supply chain super bowls. 

I believe people get in trouble in three areas when they devise metrics:
  • They are inwardly focused and not from the view of a customer
  • The critical few are not separated out from the "nice to know"
  • They do not have one or two (no more) clear outcome metrics.  Using our football analogy, think of the outcome metric as the score of the game.  All the individual stats that are produced (proudly by AWS) during the game are just input or driving metrics.  They only matter if they indicate and predict what the outcome of the game will be. 
Finally, we learn from Tom Brady (and Bill Belichick, the coach of New England) that it is all about improving.  You win the superbowl by winning one game at a time and not dwelling on the negatives.  My favorite press conference was after New England got destroyed by Kansas City one year and at the post game presser all Belichick said was, "We are on to Cincinnati".  Meaning, the game with KC is done, over, now it is about improving and winning the next game.  (Patriots ended up beating Cincinnati 43-17 and went on to win the Super Bowl)

Too often people are looking at "rear view mirror" metrics so much that while they are constantly reviewing the metrics they forget to look in the windshield to see what is coming next (Cincinnati).  Sometimes you have to just learn then move on.  A critical few metrics, where you isolate and ignore all the noise, will ensure you do this.   

In honor of Bill Belichick, below is the press conference I reference.  (You will have to go to YouTube to see these)

Have a great week!

As an added bonus, if you want to have a lot of laughs, here is a montage of all his press conferences which are epic:

1 comment:

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