When It Comes to Your Business, Who’s Manning the Scoreboard?

shutterstock_62735353With spring comes baseball.  With baseball comes a multitude of familiar things from sunflower seeds to bad calls by the ump.  One other consistent thing, at least for me, is the old scoreboard at our town baseball diamond. When the older boys play, some of the younger teams man the scoreboard.  You can see the younger boys sitting on the wooden deck with their feet dangling in the wind and paying little attention to the actual game.  This results in a scoreboard that is usually slightly correct and always a little behind.  Then the usually couple of boys get locked in a conversation about what the actual ball-strike count is or how many runs actually scored in the inning.

I was watching all of this activity and began to think.  There are really two things going on, players on the field playing the game and the scoreboard group recording what happened.  Only one of these groups can actually impact the outcome of the game—the players on the field.  Regardless how passionate the argument of the younger boys on how many runs scored, they are only accounting what has already happened.  They can’t actually change the reality.  For good reason!  I think I have seen the scoreboard show the home team up by over 200 points before…

When you apply this to business, the difference between the scoreboard kids and the players is sometimes very hard to tell apart.  It’s a normal desire to be the player and want to impact the outcome.  But, in some cases we are just manning the scoreboard.  In some cases, we have very expensive scoreboards and processes around them that can make the management of them feel like the game.  Some obvious questions arise from these facts.

  1. How much does your scoreboard actually cost your business? Is it worth the investment?  We pay our scoreboard kids in Sunflower seeds… I bet yours cost a lot more than that!
  2. Is your scoreboard consuming player resources?  Or does it cost so much that you are limiting field time?  A worse case scenario: your first baseman needs to spend an inning working the scoreboard instead of playing.  So, back office labor matters.
  3. Is you scoreboard correct or worse relevant to running the business?  Stay away from vanity metrics.  Sure there are interesting points in some cases, but in every case look at the cost for calculation verse the return.

Have some good scoreboard stories?  We’d love to hear them!

Alan Hinchman

As Chief Operating Officer at The Water Initiative, Alan Hinchman leads global businesses and local communities in the pursuit of clean, affordable water. His work with water distribution information technologies helps make our most valuable resource safe and accessible around the world. Connect with Alan on LinkedIn.

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