Sunday, December 16, 2007

Vital Signs - A new focus for the blog

Introduction to the new Vital Signs Blog

For those of us who seek metaphors for what we see in the business world, the Wikipedia definition for Vital Signs helps us with a medical health metaphor: vital signs in medicine are those measures taken by health professionals in order to assess the most basic body functions. They are: body temperature, pulse/heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate.

In the business setting, CFO's are called upon to measure, report and assess the health of the business and its ability to be competitive. CFO's are expected to have the pulse of the business and to know its financial and non-financial vital signs. HR leaders are expected to increase the talent base of the organization, arguably noting that ability to attract and retain talent is a vital sign that should be measured. This business-oriented blog therefore focuses on business vital signs but extends the metaphor beyond basic health to vital signs of competitiveness and innovation. And these are most often leading indicators.

As a management consultant focused on helping organizations transform their performance management processes (see my recent article, 'CFO as Strategist and Catalyst in Building a High-Performance Culture), I have come to the realization that many employees are not aware of the organization's vital signs, let alone the vital signs of their industry, and of the global economy in which their organization operates. In future posts of this Vital Signs blog, I will explore key internal performance measures as well as industry, and broader economic Vital Signs that could be part of your organization's scorecard. Both financial and non-financial vital signs will be highlighted.