Own the Numbers

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October 21, 2021

Editor’s note: In this excerpt from the “Win Every Day” Field Guide by Mark Miller and Randy Gravitt, the authors share this case study that shows how important it is to be able to measure performance...and “own the numbers.”

While pursuing mastery and helping others win are both necessary for great execution, measurement drives performance. If you intend to go from where you are to where you hope to be, everyone must own the numbers.

From grades in school to sports scores to our vitals at the doctor’s office, metrics matter in numerous areas of life. They let us know how we are doing.

Business is no different than other walks of life. The numbers, at any given time, give leaders a snapshot of reality. Measurement — including creating a process for measurement, measuring what matters and attacking the gaps to drive improvement — is essential for sustained performance.

However, measurement alone isn’t what differentiates the good from the great. After all, some sort of measurement is a part of all world-class organizations. But the most elite move from measurement to ownership. To own the numbers, all team members know how their particular job ties into the overall objective and how they can own their part to drive the numbers in the right direction to achieve a win. From the C-suite to the front line, procedural discipline is in place to ensure every person owns his or her role, owns the goal and owns the numbers.

For a sports team, knowing the numbers is the difference between merely practicing and truly competing; in business, owning the numbers will be vital if you intend to Win Every Day.

CASE STUDY. Dr Pepper Snapple Group runs an expansive operation — 22 global manufacturing plants, more than 100 distribution centers and approximately 21,000 employees.

To become the third-largest carbonated soft drink company in the Americas, Dr Pepper Snapple Group has always focused heavily on its execution strategy. One of its three key strategic priorities — along with “Build Our Brands” and “Rapid Continuous Improvement” — is “Execute with Excellence.” To execute with excellence, the company knows that people must own their numbers — from the C-suite to the employees on the factory floor.

While making the bottled drinks may sound simple, a wide variety of positions, expertise and materials are involved in executing effectively to create end products. The roles in the process are highly diverse: some managers are in charge of selling thousands of cases of products to grocery stores, whereas other workers are in charge of screwing caps on bottles of one particular type of drink. No matter who you are or where you work within the process, however, one thing is certain: Measurement is a critical part of your day-to-day job.

The company has created a holistic measurement ecosystem: there are organization-wide goals and metrics, and those larger numbers are then individualized for each person in his or her role. The end result is a completely aligned organization. Each person has a goal to directly influence, and that goal leads up to broader metrics for the company. The person responsible for screwing caps on bottles, for example, is held accountable to a specific measure: the number of caps per minute. This person isn’t measured against larger goals, such as overall throughput. Rather, every employee is measured by something he or she can directly control and one that helps drive the larger organization-wide goals and the overall vision of the organization: to “Be the Best Beverage Business in the Americas.”

RESULTS. By implementing a strategy in which every worker knows the numbers and owns the numbers, Dr Pepper Snapple Group has created an efficient and effective operations system that accommodates nearly half of its total volume going through its own bottlers, as opposed to relying on third-party bottlers. As CEO Larry Young commented, “[This] has contributed to our success — how we’ve been able to control our business [and] control our route to market.” In addition, Dr Pepper Snapple Group was recognized with a CIO 100 Award for organization excellence.