As a result of my extensive experience as a Metrics and Reporting Specialist I’ve come to understand or at least seriously question something about CEO’s. I would discuss this confusion with friends and perhaps associates yet I had never given it a name. I’m now calling it “The CEO Conundrum”. This may come as a surprise or even be shocking once I get into it and perhaps even irritate those in executive positions yet once I explain how it is I eventually came to this awareness it will be clear that I’m correct in what I’m saying at least from what I’ve experienced. Much of this comes from the fact that the higher you go up the corporate ladder the more accountable you are to multitude of various functions of the company with each level having some element of Direct Reports taking care of details at that level which the leader of that level cannot personally keep in touch with and therefore depends on those various direct reports to attend to those details.
How This Conundrum Unfolded
United Airlines Cargo was my first corporate job to support a monthly book for cargo service performance which eventually evolved into me creating the first weekly report in an effort to get the reporting closer to when the actual performance had occurred. Monthly and quarterly reports ensued. I was eventually tasked to build a reduced version of these metrics as guided by my manager. Other metrics from the division were added such as some financials. This was to be included in a distribution package that was used for meetings with the C-Suite. As I became more involved with reporting on the various levels of the division and then to the company at large, the higher up they went, the simpler they got. None of the upper level metrics included a lot of data. They had to be more simply expressed as meeting or not meeting a target and nothing else. This is where I came up with the phrase “Look and Go” in relation to these upper management metrics realizing if the person had to spend time analyzing what it said it was either ignored or rejected flat out. My first exposure to “metrics manipulation” happened here. The director of cargo would at times come to me with “recalculations” of the goals that were also used in the C-Suite report in order to assist them in meeting their goals so as to not be called out (aka embarrassed) for any lackluster performance in these round table meetings of all of the divisions of the company. Although the data reported was always very accurate, these “recalculations” were at times very creative as it was an attempt to avoid the embarrassment with peers. One in particular was where he asked me to remove the goal lines in the C-Suite version. I had to submit them to someone who aggregated them all into a single package. An hour later I received a call saying that the Senior VP who reported to the CEO noticed they were gone and requested them to be immediately reinstated. The director happened to pass by just as I got off of the phone and when I informed him of it his response rhymed with yuck.
My next Metrics and Reporting role was at Allstate Insurance in their application development division with the initial task of rebuilding a massive quarterly division report containing a lot of different metrics from financial to people to various ITIL based metrics. Upon completion the next task was to develop weekly and monthly reporting for the department. As I worked with the various departmental stakeholders I again noticed that these contained not just more metrics but also more detail than the executive quarterly report. I also worked on a variety of other reporting that depending on the audience would depend on the detail of the results.
The reports I created at my next role at Caremark were very similar to the Allstate metrics. I designed and created metrics that reported the same pattern of detail at the department level, less at the Director level and even more consolidated for the Vice President. Continue reading