A Double-Dog-Dare: “What do you measure?”


That was the first question Dr. Eric Sims asked me when we sat down to lunch.  “What do you measure?”

Eric is a wine business consultants in the Napa Valley, and one of the finest financial minds I’ve ever met. As a professor, he taught a piece of my MBA program. I later asked him to advise on activities at Six Sigma Ranch and Winery.

“Well,” was my answer, “we measure sales. And we count the guests in the tasting room. What else is there?” The professor continued relentlessly: “And how often do you talk about those numbers with the team?”

I soon discovered where the man was going with his questioning: Whatever gets measured (and talked about,) that’s what grows.

The Tractor Supply Company, a well-known supplier of farming equipment, tracks monthly sales daily on a graph in the break room. If they hit the monthly goal, everyone gets a bonus. If they don’t, the bonus goes away. You can bet there are no unattended customers on the sales floor near the end of the month.

We now have one or two key metrics for each job at Six Sigma Ranch. We talk about sales and club memberships at our weekly meeting. We track things like “average membership duration” and “annual yield per acre.” These aren’t complicated, but they help everyone keep a clear focus.

If you aren’t yet sold on metrics, I dare you to try something: Pick a metric. Try sales, customer visits or even your own weight. Review it every morning for a month. Then tell us what happened!



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