I picked up one more insight from “The 12 Week Year” that is helping me track goal progress in a much more helpful way this year. It’s not a fancy tool or complicated system, it’s two simple definitions for the terms “lead” and “lag” indicators. This isn’t an original concept, but it’s one I hadn’t thought to apply to my personal and business goals before, and now that I have it seems completely obvious.
A More Helpful Way to Track Goal Progress
Basically, “lag” indicators measure the results or outcomes while “lead” indicators measure the efforts you put in along the way to achieve those outcomes.
For example, let’s say our goal is to grow our music studio by 5 students in two months. After the first month, we look at our progress and see that have 2 new students. That number is a “lag” indicator.
It’s good to know this number, but “lag” indicators by themselves don’t really tell us what to do to get more students in the future.
Now, let’s say we know those students came because we distributed 200 flyers in their neighborhoods. That action we took is a “lead” indicators. A measure of effort.
This information (combined with a little elementary school math) is crazy helpful!
Playing the Numbers Game
If distributing 200 flyers got us two students, we can estimate that, on average, every 100 flyers we distribute will bring one new student to our studio.
Of course other factors may be at play here (the neighborhood we distribute in, seasonality, etc.) but, unlike the “lag” indicator that just gives us a status update, this “lead” indicator can help us define the actions we need to take to accomplish our goal.
We got two students in the first month, but we’ll need to get three in the second month to reach our goal. This means we’re going to have to up our game and distribute at least 300 flyers (100/student) if we want a reasonable chance at reaching our goal.
Why Does it Matter?
It’s helpful to track “lag” indicators, but “lead” indicators give us the feedback we need to intelligently revise our plans and consistently reach our goals.
Take a few minutes to review your goals for this year. How are you tracking them? What are some “lead” and “lag” indicators you can use to help track goal progress?