Delivering Results Not Reports – Maxim # 1

maxim_1“Results not reports” resonates with many business executives. There are few things more common than a stockpile of old reports filled with well-intentioned plans gathering dust in an executive’s bookshelf or buried in a data storage folder.

We believe one of the reasons this happens is because the report often becomes an end in itself. Reports often look great and contain useful information. They usually identify opportunity and many spell out fairly clearly what needs to be done to either fix the problem or take advantage of the opportunity. The trouble is they’re just a report. The results they identify and project aren’t real.  They’re based on things actually changing.

Another problem with reports is that they tend to tell you what you already know. People know that to lose weight you should exercise more and eat less. Knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to lose weight.

Most reports are written to show how “better” results can be achieved. But these results will not occur unless something changes the current performance level. Results are the output of many coordinated (and sometimes unanticipated) actions. But they only exist due to specific things changing.  For managers to impact results they must somehow change the product itself, the business process, the way they or others manage, or the way they or other people behave. Often they have to affect all of these areas concurrently.

When “results” are the outcome, rather than “reports,” it paradoxically both broadens and focuses your thinking.  There are usually fewer specific things you need to concentrate on, but more lateral influences you need to consider and modify. This is also one of the reasons sustainable change is very difficult for functional managers (their ability to change lateral influences is limited).

Carpedia uses this maxim as the basis for all of its strategic choices. It allows the company to focus its services on only those types of projects where the client’s results can actually be measured.