How to determine what’s most important for your organization

Lee Benson
Feb 19, 2020 · 3 min read

To measurably connect culture to financial results, you need to determine what is most important for your organization and quantify it. We call this your most important number (MIN).

A MIN is simply the primary outcome you are working to achieve. Organizations have a most important number, as do departments and teams. The purpose is to align all the work across the organization towards a common goal.

What is most important will differ based on the industry and type of organization. For example…

For-profit: Net revenue

Non-profit: Impact

Government: Effectiveness

Identifying the organization’s MIN is not enough. Every department and team must create their own number that directly supports the organization’s MIN. Think of each number like a gear that helps move the next gear up, until the gear at the top moves.

Here is an example of what each team in one organization might choose for their individual MIN.

Human resources: Top performer retention

Finance: Financial information delivery

Supply chain: Return on net assets

Operations: Sales expense control

Sales: Profitable revenue

Now it’s your turn to identify your most important number. It’s a good idea to include your team in this conversation to hear more ideas and ensure everyone agrees with what’s most important. The conversation and process is nearly as important as the number itself.

1. List your team’s outcomes

Brainstorm and write down all the outcomes your department is responsible for delivering. List everything you can think of and refine the list later.

How does your team create value?

If you could only deliver one thing, what would it be?

What do other departments rely on you to deliver?

2. Rank the list

Once you have your list of outcomes, rank them based on the value they create for the organization.

Which outcomes are the most important?

What can you do that helps your leader reach their goals best?

3. Dig deeper

Time to challenge assumptions. Document the dependencies for every outcome. Only your leader’s number should be dependent on yours.

Why is your top number at the top?

Is another outcome dependent on it?

If so, is that outcome actually more important?

4. Refine your list

Once you have thoroughly examined and refined your list, re-order it as needed. You will rarely get everything correct the first time, so do this as many times as required. This is a great exercise to help you and your leader identify if what you spend the most time on is really what is most important.

In a head-to-head battle, which number do you believe will most affect the number and results for the team above yours?

5. Link it to your leader’s MIN

Now that you have your list, can you explain why your top outcome has the most direct link to your leader’s number or the organization’s? When you can explain this without hesitation, you know you have your most important number.

What are at least three reasons why your number will have the greatest impact on your department’s most important number?

How will your outcome have a final impact on the organization’s most important number?

Determining what’s most important is just the first step in linking your culture to financial results.

At ETW, we help you do the work of improving what’s most important in three specific ways:

Stay focused

Architect and manage the strategic plans that will help accelerate financial results.

Improve meetings

Get twice as much done in half the time with focused, outcome-driven meetings.

Evaluate performance

Be clear on where everyone stands and what it takes to advance in each role.

We facilitate conversations obsessed with improving leadership, culture, and results. Experience a guided conversation for yourself and book a complimentary experience with our team.

Execute to Win

We help teams improve what’s most important, and it all…

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