Return on Investment – Both a Number and a Process

Before you start the “next big thing”, learn from the past big thing.

You’ve probably heard a variation on the saying about those who don’t learn from history being doomed to repeat it. It applies to organizations as well. Learn from past investments to improve future returns.

Tremendous investments of resources (time, energy, and money) are required when adopting new strategic metrics, modifying organizational policies, launching a new product, opening a new location/delivery channel, undertaking a system conversion – really any change. There are hopes and promises, goals and plans.

Too often, organizations forget to evaluate actual performance to understand the true return on investment. This should be a regular practice designed to make improvements rather than a finger pointing exercise. And it really doesn’t take very long. Discuss

What went well?

What were the unexpected challenges?

Is the initiative achieving expectations? If not, identify the gaps and see if it is feasible to close them.

Are we seeing the expected return on investment? If not, what can be done to get there?

Did we spend more or less than the budget? Why?

When the change goes well, take time to celebrate the success. Brainstorm about what went right so you can apply winning techniques for further success. Enjoy the win and thank your team.

If you aren’t completely satisfied with the results, identify why. Some common causes are marketing that misses the target, inadequate employee preparation, technical issues, quality issues, etc. Avoid the blame game. Focus on future better returns for a discussion that will bring to light adjustments that will lead to improvements. Thank your team.