Lead Measures. Lag Measures. So What?

When working with Kenneth Kwan, pictured below, I was introduced to the concept of “Lead Measures” and “Lag Measures”. While the concept was not totally new, I had not articulated it in the manner described heretofore.


So, what are “Lead” and “Lag” measures? They have to do with goal setting. While some may argue that goal-setting is probably counter-productive, I take the view that they are actually necessary most of the time. I find that many people who bitch about things that don’t work are usually just trying to advance their own agendas by appearing to be “outliers” and people who “think out of the box”. Not all, I said “many”. So, focus back here for a minute or two. One of the main issues with setting goals is how to know that they have actually been achieved. Otherwise, what happens a lot of the time? You know, don’t you? They disappear into oblivion and non-achievement. Out of sight and out of mind. “Aren’t there measures already in place for that?” you might well ask. There are. Many of those that we know of, however, are what we call “lag” measures. In other words, you probably wouldn’t know that the goals for the week. month, whatever, have actually not been met until the time is up! Not very useful from a goal-achievement point of view. These “lag” measures are still necessary, don’t get me wrong, but they are necessary for records, not for execution.

“Lead” measures ensure that your weekly, monthly, whatever, goals are met by identifying and doing what would need to be done in order to meet those weekly, monthly, whatever, goals. So, if you have set weekly goals, lead measures could be what you MUST do on a DAILY basis. Or maybe what you MUST do every two days. Or maybe what you MUST do every half-day. Whatever works for you in your context. If you have set daily goals, then perhaps your lead measures must be what you MUST do every hour. Every two hours. Whatever. I don’t suggest you set daily goals, they look stressful. Weekly goals seem to be the best bet if you are talking at the tactical level.

IMG_1098An example. My goal is to have some home-grown vegetables every week. In order to achieve that goal, I need to plant vegetables. I need to ensure that they are watered every day. In fact, I need to ensure that they are watered three times or more per day. I need to remove snails every day. In fact, I need to remove snails two or three times per day. I need to inspect the soil in each pot every day, to ensure that there is enough soil, and that the soil remains rich enough. And finally, when I see individual plants that can be harvested, I cut them and have them for dinner! The stumps remain in the pots and usually produce new growth, which reduces the growing time planting from seeds. I haven’t attained my goal of having home-grown vegetables every week, but I do have some every two weeks or so, and I know that is going to improve!

So, do you have lead measures to ensure that you reach your goals? Think of at least one today. Then just go and get it done! Happy goal-achieving!

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