Job Creation as a KPI

The economy is anemic (at best), and there is a lot of talk about job creation.  How could something that EVERYONE is for be so tough to achieve?  [Everyone being committed to the same goal is the starting point; everyone needs to remember to what they are committed in order to get past differences in how we achieve the objective.] This being an election year, listening to every candidate talk about jobs, you’d think that good times would be right around the corner… or at least right after the election. Good luck with that.

The talk ignores the action needed to make it so.  Government can create government jobs (show of hands: how many think that’s answer?), and it can foster the creation of government-related jobs in the private sector.  But it can’t create non-government-related jobs, the very thing we need so much.  All that talk ignores what it takes to grow jobs, and that is, quite simply, a growing business.

So how do we have growing businesses? This is something like the Grant’s Tomb question in that the answer should be obvious (though a disturbingly large number of people either don’t know, or answer ‘Tomb’).  Rapidly growing businesses offer their customers dramatically more value than me-too businesses: benefits, tangible and intangible, customers can’t get elsewhere, at prices they gladly pay given the value they receive.  [See a recent blog, Two Coats Plus Prep Work.]If you’re not sure how to do that, start by asking the people at the front line of your organization and your top customers what it would take to accomplish… betcha they know.  David Thomson has described seven factors for rapid growth, all of which help inform the management system needed to make it happen.  David’s research and insight are first-rate, but the key points are that it is possible to learn to build a growing business and that it starts with creating something especially valuable.

I grew up in an era, which I think we are still in, where every manager had a mindset of reducing headcount, producing more with less.  Corporate profits don’t look too bad these days.  But if you look at top line growth, revenue doesn’t look as good.  Profits are being achieved via expense reduction.  And what expenses are being reduced? Compensation, via headcount being frozen or reduced… maybe cuts in R&D too, limiting our ability to innovate our way back to health and build rapidly growing businesses.

How about a different point of view: what if we used job creation as a key performance indicator of the success of any business? No fair gaming the system (that would be fresh!) by adding make-work jobs, though in tough times that might be tempting or possibly even beneficial.  But growing revenue so fast you couldn’t hire great, or even average, people fast enough.  Wouldn’t that be a welcome change?

Who’s up to changing their POV to job creation?  Anyone? Anyone?