Sunday, December 10, 2006

Plan vs. Actual -- Part 2

Plan vs. Actual – Part 2

My second big botch of this simple concept of Plan vs Actual occurred this fall in a financial setting.

We had a problem with one key manufacturing issue, which, fortunately, had a simple, reliable metric with which we could measure progress. I set out a plan and began to execute it. My measuring the input, I figured we were on our way towards the target.

What I failed to do was to calculate just long it would take to achieve the goal.

This is as if I had worked out a diet and exercise plan to lose one pound a week, yet never did the simple math to see how many weeks it would take me to get from 205 lbs to the desired 190 lbs.

Multiple weeks into the effort, a fellow manager asked me the obvious question: “Joe, if you are losing a pound a week and we’re 8 weeks into this, why do you still weigh 203 lbs?”

I never did the math. I didn’t watch the metric closely. I assumed I “knew” that the pound a week was coming off and everything else would be just fine.

As it turns out, the input was wrong. To continue the analogy, my weight loss system took off less than a half-pound a week, not a full pound. By not measuring it more frequently, I didn’t have the info that would have alerted me that something was wrong.

Pretty lousy performance. And looks even worse as I put it into black and white. I’ve thought a lot about it and have instituted some changes. I’ll write about that next time.

And, I hope you can learn a lesson from my mistake!!

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