I was pleasantly surprised at how many people attended my seminar on Benchmarking at IFMA’s World Workplace in Orlando earlier this month. As usual, I brought some take-home material for the audience, but I ran out. In fact, a number of people had to stand at the back of the room.
I think it’s because the topic wasn’t just about traditional benchmarking. I emphasized the ‘Beyond’ part of benchmarking where traditional benchmarking, compare published results with yours – is only the first step in a process.
Here is a quote that pretty well sums it up for traditional benchmarking:
“what gets copied is the symptom of success, not the cause” – Dr. Ed. Baker, Ford Motor Company
In the seminar, I first talk about traditional benchmarking and then about being careful when using benchmarking results. There are too many ways for them to be a poor comparison to your results. Different situations, different climates, different company drivers and more can be factors you need to consider.
Being careful not to compare apples and oranges is obvious. Comparing apples to apples is the bigger risk. There is a difference between a GrannySmith and a Macintosh apple, after all.
Next, I outlined how numbers can mislead. The sample sizes, distribution, participants, differences between ‘average’ and ‘mean’ can all result in comparisons that don’t really tell the true picture.
This was followed-up with a 10 step process (later boiled down to 5 steps) that focused on the HOW and WHY behind the results, assessing resources, processes and tools, including gaps, roadblocks and more – all things that you need to change if you are going to improve your results.
Simply put, you can’t improve anything simply by knowing you have to improve. You need to know what to change so you can improve.
When I do benchmarking for a client, for instance, I focus on a small number of comparable organizations that have been carefully chosen. Then I interview them and find out exactly what they do – processes, issues, history, roadblocks, things they would do differently, etc. – not just the raw number.
This way, we can look at leading practices and learn from them, then adapt what they do to my client’s needs. Sometimes, the information, is used in business cases to justify an approach or initiative – Having details, examples and industry comparisons is a powerful addition to your business case and makes it more likely to get approval.
Here are links to resources at my website StrategicAdvisor.ca:
Download page with the 10 step Bencharking process and other resurces Click Here
Link to a Benchmarking article on our website StrategicAdvisor.ca Click Here
Link to our White Papers, including Intelligent Benchmarking and an FM Health Check Click Here