Leading Indicators, Lagging Indicators & Your Nephew’s Wedding

January 31, 2019

When a specific job is completed and labor hours are reported—the most obvious first question is usually about labor hours: were they over or under the estimated prediction?

Truth is, at this point, other than knowing, it doesn’t really matter. The job is complete and the infamous colloquialism (which I really despise) comes careening out, “It is what it is!” This is the very definition of a—Lagging Indicator!

In other words, what’s done is done and nothing can be changed to correct the outcome.

Lagging Indicators are all around us—your children’s school grades, your month’s end bank statement, even your damnable weight on those ever-lying bathroom scales. We obviously need or want the information but like your bulging waist-line-predicament when grabbing an old pair of dress pants for your nephew’s wedding, once the day arrives, there ain’t much your gonna do about it!

Much more positive, however, is the wildly undiscovered benefits of Leading Indicators. When done right, leading indicators are a nearly fool proof way of heading off the dreaded let down of “It is what it is.”

For example, if your nephew’s wedding is logged for three month’s time, the smart attendee will start measuring his calorie consumption every day to make sure he is not heading across the gaining-weight line. What other leading indicators could he use? It is obvious—exercise, or calories burned, food macros, sleep, perhaps even stress levels.

All these metrics become very early indicators as to how much one will weigh the night of the wedding.

Weight maintenance may be easy to predict. However, in metal fabrication, it can take work hard to find the right leading indicators to promote jobs being completed in less hours than they were estimated. Machines like tube lasers and flat lasers can be measured for what we call, beam-on-time. In other words, how much time is the machine actually running verses sitting idle waiting for material, setups or other starters.

Other things might be measured like incorrect programming, human error, tooling issues, etc.

The whole idea is to get a handle on what leading indicators are best suited to drive the lagging results your company wants and expects. When those leading indicators are rigorously measured and reported the lagging indicators are usually no surprise.

All Metals Fabrication takes the business of metal fabrication seriously. We want to drive process improvement at every corner of the business because the ultimate leading indictor is happy customers. Happy customers mean repeat work and repeat work means staying in business for a long time.

Finally, I have to say it: It is not what it is—it is what we make it!

Best of luck at your next wedding!

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