One cultural aspect of American business that is both a driving force and a curse is our obsession with getting results. It does not matter if we are looking at company performance or individual performance. It does not matter if we are looking at strategy, marketing, sales, manufacturing or finance. Neither does it matter if we look at our lean progress or any other business approach, our business metrics or our stock performance. The bottom line is that everything and everyone is rated and evaluated on results and only on results.

Just as in sports, all that matters is the final score – who won. What do we see in the majority of sports headlines … who won, who lost and the score.

For most of us, this is just a fact of life, a given, part of our competitive nature, our culture. I cannot argue against results entirely; results are important.

Sometimes we can easily quantify the results by making them objective. Sometime we cannot. Results that are subjective are like beauty – it is in the eye of the beholder. Despite our efforts to make all results objective and quantifiable, in many cases, subjectivity remains.

Overlooking this problem, we obsess over results. What is our stock price? What were our quarterly financials? Did I hit my quota? What is our 5-S audit score? What is our overall equipment effectiveness (OEE)? What are my direct labor costs? Was this project a success? What is each employee’s talent matrix rating? Just tell me the score.

But does this tell us the whole story? Are we focused long-term? Does it reflect the struggle? What about the knowledge gained? Does it matter? What impact will it have on our future? What was the cost of our success? Were there any negative consequences in getting our results? Do we care?

In our obsession with results, do we actually miss something, perhaps something greater?

About the author:
Mike Wroblewski started his lean journey with instruction in quick die change from Shigeo Shingo. Mike is currently a senior operations consultant for Gemba Consulting North America LLC. He also writes a blog called “Got Boondoggle?” featuring lean and Six Sigma topics. You may contact Mike via e-mail at MWroblewski@gemba.com.