Averages and numbers don’t mean anything if there isn’t someone responsible at a core level. A project held by an outstanding approval, the overdue bill, mismanaged funds, a missed compliance deadline… problems all solved by first starting with the accountable individual’s name.

Individuals make the biggest impact. Accountability for performance is often placed on executive management and/or line managers — not individuals. In a desire to manage the system, leaders forget the individual contributor has to take responsibility. Every manager has a big part to play, but ultimately the individual contributor has more impact on the outcome.

The power in listing a name. Actuals are actionable – averages are not. When you’ve got a name and a number it’s clear who you need to call to resolve the problem. And when you see a name pop up repeatedly it becomes clear that you haven’t solved the underlying problem.

The real key to improving an average. Focus on the bottom two quartiles of the bell curve distribution. These are the individuals whose performance, when improved, best impacts the average.

Services Firm Improves DSO – just by listing names. A services firm recently improved their Days Sales Outstanding 50% by focusing the management reporting on highlighting individual contribution. They discovered 2 individuals contributing to 80% of the average variance. Through follow-on engagement with those individuals, the company was able to standardize off-line billing processes and dramatically decrease DSO.

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