December 1, 2020

Common-Sense Management

By Paul Daniels

Analytics have invaded sports, business and even the glass industry. I just read an article talking about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and creating KPI trees to measure the performance of their business and staff. Using analytics to make business decisions seems to be sidelining an important part of the process – common sense. The more I read, even though it was dressed up, the more it sounded like a way to take industry professionals’ years of experience out of the equation.

My old boss called it common sense management. If you google “Common-Sense Management” many articles and books will pop up with their own definitions. In my professional life, we always kept it simple. When a manager requested reports, they were always asked: What are you going to do with the information? How will it help our customers? It was no surprise that after review most were rejected.

Commonsense management was based on some simple principles:
• We are in business for our customers.
• Treat our employees the way you would like to be treated.
• Have the ability to recognize what needs to be done and the good sense to get it done.
• Hire for character, train for success.

Peter Drucker, years ago, had a great observation: “What gets measured gets improved,” but I think today’s analytics are going too far. The most important thing you want to measure is your infrastructure. Make sure that it’s scaled for your business, assuring you have enough resources to answer the phone on time, respond to customers, deliver your goods or services, and identify problem areas.

One example of a company not following this was a plumbing company I called a couple of weeks ago. We had used them several times in the past and the work was fine. They set up an appointment a few days in the future, which was fine. The day of the appointment they started calling every three or four hours to let us know they were running late, but would be there soon. After several days of this we canceled the appointment and called another plumber that a friend recommended.

This is a great example of a company that did not have the infrastructure to take care of their existing customers. In this case, they lost a customer. Common sense should have told them that they were not servicing their customers. I hope they were not using analytics to determine how to distribute their service calls.