Like athletes who rely on fitness bands to tangibly track their heart rate, calorie intake and cardio workouts, organisations can benefit from rigorously tracking their progress to help them deliver the business’ goals.

But what data should you track? Well firstly, you have to ensure you have the right data in place. Too much time is wasted and wrong decisions made by analysing inconsequential metrics. So what is important to the business? The key is to connect people inputs to business outputs. For example you could think through:

  • Headcount against cost (payroll)
  • Engagement against Performance
  • Span of Control against Process efficiency
Once you have selected your key metrics, track them and report on them religiously. Are you performing to plan? If not, why not? What are the factors affecting success? Such as training, amount of objectives or reward. Businesses only succeed if they know when they’re failing not just when they’re succeeding, and how they can affect change.

Often when analytical tracking is applied there is an upward line indicating the success of a data-led strategy. However, arguably the real value of analytics is only realised when we are expecting things to go well but the data suggests otherwise.

Being able to quickly recognise and investigate problems has three main benefits:

  • Agility
In practice, deviation from organisation design plans is inevitable. The time it takes to respond to deviations is the difference between a quick fix and a long term embedded problem. Being clear about what data you are tracking and being consistent not only makes it easier to identify issues faster, but understand where focus is needed.
  • Collaboration
With consistent data and focused analytics comes clarity. This empowers employees and workstreams across the business to contribute ideas, rapidly prototype and test hypotheses.
  • Transparency
Actual performance may be adrift from budget and employees may disagree over a given decision due to the absence of evidence. Tracking, supported by consistent data, enables practitioners to quickly query, retrieve and audit historical decisions.

By establishing key milestones, measuring and documenting impact, organisations gain long-term memory and are able to learn from past mistakes. The result is an organisational nimbleness to think, act and respond to changing circumstances.

Sustaining your edge

Last but not least, we need to remind ourselves that organisational transformation is not a one-off repair project, but an ongoing learning process that requires a collective commitment of everyone within. There is no doubt that implementing a new design is emotionally draining and requires constant communication.

To sustain the competitive edge that transformation brings, we need to build an institutional resilience, an ability to embrace change and make it real - that is why consistent and focused tracking is so important to organisational success.

By Rupert Morrison, Managing Director of data analytics firm Concentra and author of Data-driven Organization Design