Where performance is measured, performance improves. Where performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.

-Thomas S. Monson (1927 –  )

If you can’t measure something, is it worthwhile?

What would the NCAA Final Four be if they didn’t keep score (heck, would there even be a Final Four?!)

Would you ever diet if you never weighed yourself and only wore clothes with elastic waist bands?

Does performance matter if no one cares?

Performance is important.  But what is it?  Performance is benchmarking (having something to compare progress against), a method to actually measure or track changes and a desired outcome.  Pretty simple actually.

Think about performance in business terms.  As a customer of some brand, if you have a problem and call their help line, are disconnected twice, on hold for 20 minutes and find out when you reach someone they can’t help you, how do you measure that brand’s performance?  Is this brand experience worth it?

As an employee, what if you were 3 years behind on the development of a new product and didn’t track against any budgets?  What if you didn’t track pricing or quality? How would your company’s performance be measured?  Would you be competitive?  How would you know?

Lots of brands have communities.  Some are better developed than others, but how are these communities performing?  Does it matter?  And to whom?

Well, it does matter.  It should matter to a lot of people…people both directly and indirectly involved in that brands community.  Community can have a HUGE impact on a brand and its underlying operational components by driving results in three categories:

1.  Advocacy (both WOM and product/service consumption)

2.  Feedback

3.  Support

The problem is that some businesses don’t seem to understand the importance of community. They treat it like….an after thought.  Outside of three people in the marketing department, community is something that isn’t even on the radar screen. Is community as important as a patent? How about a state of the art distribution center?

For most businesses, who some operational experts call ‘laggards’, community is only viewed as another channel to push branded messaging. Other businesses, which operational experts call ‘innovators’, community is part and parcel to everything they do.

Below are two models. Which one looks like your company? Depending on how you answer (be honest), community is either a ‘thing’…marketing function and provides you limited value but one you can draw a nice neat box around.

1

Or instead, community in some form or fashion permeates every aspect of your business. You can’t easily define where it starts and where it stops. It just is. It’s organized and it’s everywhere.

2

If you say, “hey, this sort of looks like what we do”, you work for a leader. An innovator. It doesn’t matter whether you do it perfectly or not (nobody does), your business is a high performer.

The bad news is there are lots of laggards and worse, most of them don’t want to change.  The good news is innovators want to get better and some laggards just need a roadmap and some encouragement.

So my question in this installment (one of three) is where does community reside in your organization? Are you an innovator or a laggard? In either case do you want to improve your organization’s performance?  Community is a strategic asset if deployed properly.

In part two of this installment I’ll focus on how to measure community and then what to do with the numbers.

Steve Hershberger
Steve Hershberger