Infobase Ventures’ web site has a page that lists resources for entrepreneurs, primarily internet entrepreneurs. We have scores of valuable links: to sites that we use regularly, to tools that are valuable, and to books and articles that we have used successfully to build companies in the past. This morning I realized that I haven’t listed on our Reading List for Entrepreneurs one of the most practical business books that I’ve ever read. It also happens to be one of the funnest, easiest reads of all.
It’s called “The Game of Work” by Chuck Coonradt. The author claims that if we measure something, it almost always improves. If we measure something and report, the pace of improvement accelerates. The Game of Work teaches that work can be as fun as sports if we are constantly striving to improve and keeping track of our individual score.
At Ancestry.com we decided to implement the concepts in the book back in ’97 or ’98 and ask employees to create their own score card and measure their own score. I remember the scanning department was less than productive. Twice in one day I saw one of our scanners had fallen asleep. Then we started score-keeping. Every employee was to report the number of pages they had scanned during their 4-hour shift. Immediately our scanning department productivity jumped by 250% — without increasing compensation.
What happened was simple: each employee now saw how productive he or she was compared to other scanners. If you fell asleep during your shift, your pages per hour average would drop dramatically–for everyone else to see. We were thrilled to see this kind of productivity gain, and we saw it repeated in other departments in the company as well. Many departments in the company, especially sales and marketing, were very driven towards achieving stretch goals. I remember back in 1999 when we were adding a few thousand MyFamily.com members per day and we set a goal to hit 10,000 per day. By measuring every lead source of new members every day, and setting goals, and working hard, we were able to reach that level in less than a month. Then we upped the goal to 20,000 new members per day.
Every business manager and employee should read the Game of Work and decide what metrics to use and what goals to set. There is definite satisfaction in watching your own productivity increase as you keep score day to day.