It’s Results, Not Activity, That Matters

results matter 2Over my career, I have read hundreds of resumes that listed job titles, activities and skills but forgot to list the most important data point . . . results.  It’s great that you participated on a task team to reorganize your workflow but did it work? Was workflow improved?  By how much? And how did this improve your business result?   Asking employees to think in these terms when creating a resume gets them focused on accomplishments rather than activity.  It also gets them to think about what they do every day, not just in terms of work assignments, but in terms of the value that they bring to the company which most employees will tell you is more fulfilling.

Companies frequently fall into the same “activity” trap.  How many times have you heard companies boast about how many people they have trained or how many projects they have completed?  Measuring the number of people trained, teams formed and ideas generated allows you to know that the foundation is in place to achieve results.  But many companies get so caught up in measuring activity they lose sight of what they are trying to accomplish with their initiative. This frequently happens with improvement initiatives.  It’s great to measure the number of teams initiated, people trained and efficiency bulletins issued but in the end, if the initiative was to improve quality and reduce cost, someone somewhere needs to quantify if operations actually improved and if positive financial impact was achieved.

Years ago, while leading a corporate-wide process improvement initiative in a FORTUNE 200 company, we did just that.  Our goal was to improve quality and reduce cost (and no these are not mutually exclusive). Better quality drives cost reduction by eliminating defects, reducing cycle time and doing things right the first time.

When first deploying the initiative we measured the number of people trained, the number of projects identified and the scope of engagement by the organization.  Once the initiative was up and running, we still monitored these aspects but instituted new measures related to quality, process efficiencies and positive financial impact.  After a full year of implementation we generated a list of quantified improvements along with quantified financially validated savings to the tune of $150 million.  These metrics validated that our activity was yielding the desired results.

Whether you are putting together your resume or launching an initiative, activity will certainly be part of the equation but in the end it’s results that matter!