Performance Metrics: Aligning Along the Journey, Beyond Just the Destination 

Performance Metrics

When it comes to achieving goals and measuring progress, most people typically anchor on the desired result without consistently establishing explicit alignment on the ways and means they will adopt to reach it.  

Yet, deliberately defining how a vision is achieved is one of the most critical ways of building trust, enabling collaboration, proactively smoothing potential tension points and bringing people together on a journey. For enterprising families, this can be particularly powerful.  

Understanding Key Means Indicators (KMIs) and their applications 

When there is a need to measure progress toward goals or track performance over time, most people think of using KPIs. But, what about KMIs? 

Where the more familiar Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the quantifiable measures to assess progression toward desired outcomes, Key Means Indicators (KMIs) are the markers which help track whether the progress toward these desired outcomes is achieved in line with desired values and guiding principles.  

KMIs provide a framework to transfer aspirational guidelines into observable behaviours. They offer the opportunity to deliberately align on preferred strategies, rather than relying solely on trial and error. They supply a sound basis for translating intangible norms into actionable guidelines which can be monitored.  

While KPIs indicate how close the destination is, KMIs help assess the quality of the journey towards that destination. Do those coming on the journey wish to take the scenic route or the quickest one? Do they want to stop along the way to learn something new or get there first? Will they go individually and meet at the destination or progress all together, leaving no one behind? 

While there are no right or wrong KMIs, ignoring them could mean aiming solely for the destination, no matter how. Often, it means acting based on individual priorities and values, rather than through a shared vision which KMIs help define.  

On the contrary, opening the discussion on KMIs enables people to align on the shared experience they wish to plan for.  

What do KMIs mean to enterprising families? 

KMIs are universally applicable, spanning every aspect of life. They offer insights into the strategies and actions employed not only in achieving business goals, but also in nurturing family bonds and sustaining legacies. They can be utilized personally, within families, in business ventures, during transitions, for philanthropic efforts, while raising children, or when launching a new enterprise, which is why enterprising families have much to gain from defining them proactively and deliberately. 

In fact, KMIs are critical to any enterprising family journey, even during periods of stability. They facilitate intentional development, communication, learning, and transitions, shaping how we interact and collaborate. By articulating values through KMIs families can unite behind common objectives and navigate challenges such as conflicting priorities and communication gaps, while also considering the evolving family legacy. Consider how this can apply to discussions about the family’s investment portfolio – where KPIs may focus on achieving a specific percent return on assets, KMIs can offer insights into how the family’s values should be embodied within the investment portfolio.  

KMIs also encompass evaluating our consistency in adhering to the agreed-upon behaviors and identifying areas for improvement. This involves assessing whether adjustments are needed by either emphasizing certain behaviors or revisiting KMIs that may be unrealistic in practice. The aim is to capture a snapshot of our current state and gauge if our actions reflect our commitment to our KMIs. 

For instance, while KPIs may prioritize maintaining family ownership over generations, KMIs may delve into tracking how open communication, collaborative decision-making and empowerment of the next generation is leveraged in family meetings and initiatives. Not only can such KMIs help ensure each successive generation is enabled to shape an ownership culture in line with their values and aspirations, but they can also monitor whether the family is walking the talk on their good intentions and maintaining a learning mindset.  

Establishing KMIs to encourage understanding in enterprising families 

Frequently, we assume alignment within our families due to our familiarity with each other. However, the true value of KMIs lies in transforming internal understandings into explicit discussions, ensuring not only a sense of alignment but concrete agreement on shared principles, language, and intentions. This process involves determining acceptable margins of error, sensible compromises, anticipated dilemmas, and initial positions.  

For instance, prioritizing harmony above all may seem appealing, but it can overlook the inevitability and value of disagreements within families. A better approach would entail setting desired KMIs regarding preferred behaviors to manage friction constructively and effectively, as healthy tension and open discussion are vital for family growth and understanding. 

Getting started with KMIs 

Effectively implementing KMIs hinges on engaging all stakeholders, including family members, trusted advisors, and experts, and by collaboratively defining clear, realistic, and mutually agreed-upon objectives that embody the shared vision of success. 

Once all stakeholders are prepared to begin defining KMIs, it is paramount to carefully consider the following steps and questions: 

Step 1: Identify intentions and guiding principles by answering the following questions:  

  1. What would be unacceptable ways of achieving this goal?  
  2. What would be the optimal ways of achieving this goal?  
  3. How do we want to work together to achieve this goal?  
  4. What will make our journey fun, motivating and engaging for all?  

Step 2: Define KMIs and observable behaviours by answering the following questions:  

  1. How will we know we are walking the talk? 
  2. What observable behaviours, practices and ways of working illustrate our intention? 

And, as with setting KMIs, maintaining them requires intentional effort.  Discussions should be held to establish how each KMI will be measured in terms of frequency and target benchmarks, and who will be responsible for collecting and reviewing the KMIs. Regular reviews of KMIs are essential to assess their performance against set targets, gather feedback, and make necessary adjustments to maintain relevance and effectiveness. 

In various aspects of life, people often share common end goals but may have divergent ideas on how to achieve them. This lack of consensus can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and a lack of trust among individuals or groups. This holds particularly true in enterprising family dynamics, where multiple family members may have different visions or approaches. However, explicitly defining these strategies through KMIs is vital for nurturing trust, promoting collaboration, and mitigating potential conflicts.  Ultimately, KMIs serve as the markers or checkpoints along the journey, providing a clear roadmap that outlines the steps necessary for success.