How CEOs Detect Problems EARLY with Khorus

Think your company’s got no problems? That’s a big problem. Here’s how we help you spot and handle them early.

Remember the Princess and the Pea? In Hans Christian Andersen’s story, a young woman proves her royal lineage by the fact that a single pea—placed under twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds—disrupts her night’s sleep. The princess’s ability to sense a problem buried under many layers proves that she’s the real deal. The same could be said of today’s business leaders, especially CEOs. As a leader, it’s one of your primary duties to constantly feel out issues developing in the organization, even the ones muffled by layers of employees who don’t want to give you bad news. Because if you don’t seek out and address those roadblocks to executing your plan, they have an uncanny tendency to creep up and derail you at the worst possible moment. Let’s look at how Khorus operates as the CEO’s early-warning system, through a combination of aligned goals and predictive intelligence.


The Groundwork—Setting Your Priorities

Before you can identify developing problems, you must clarify what success means for your team. Khorus customers do this by setting 3–6 specific company goals each quarter. Then, the rest of the organization creates goals that align with these company priorities. Employees can now see how their and their team’s work ties to what the CEO has established as strategically important.


Finding the Problem Goals

Now you’ve got your game plan set. But as we all know, some of those goals you set are going to go awry. The trick is to find out when a goal is falling off track before it degrades into a bigger problem (and results in an uncomfortable board meeting). Fortunately, Khorus will give you the alert as soon as an employee starts predicting a roadblock. Here’s how the process works. Each of the 3–6 company goals you created has its own Prediction Matrix in Khorus. On the matrix, you’ll see all of that company goal’s supporting goals plotted according to their current Likelihood (will it get done on time?) and Quality (how do you feel about the work?). Khorus allows you to easily cycle through the Prediction Matrix for each company goal, spot the problem goals, and understand what’s going on: This is one of the most powerful views in Khorus. Crucially, you’re seeing the human, predictive insight of your workforce—a real person’s take on how their goals will play out over the coming quarter. That’s infinitely more powerful that a number without context or a backward-looking status update. In the Predictions Matrix, click on any goal to see more about it, including associated metrics and description and any comments from the employee. You can comment back, offering thoughts or guidance.


Running Your Weekly Meetings

We often recommend that CEOs use the Predictions Matrix to drive their weekly operations meetings. The process is simple, as outlined below. It’s a form of management by exception that eliminates filler from your meetings—and it typically takes no more than 30 minutes.
1. Review the Predictions Matrix for each company goal.

Since these are your strategic priorities for the quarter, you want to revisit them each week. Your department heads should all be in the room as you pull up Khorus and cycle through the Predictions Matrix for each company goal.

2. Discuss the problem goals.

For each company goal, assess the state of its supporting goals. Start by filtering the Predictions Matrix to see the supporting goals just one level down. Have any of these supporting goals moved to yellow, orange, or red? If so, ask the relevant department head to discuss what’s going on. Does the CEO need to worry about it? Is it a true roadblock to achieving the company priority in question?

Next, filter the Predictions Matrix so you see all supporting goals. This will reveal goals down to the individual contributor level. Note any worrisome clusters of low-Likelihood or low-Quality goals. Does the manager in question have it under control, or does this warrant a discussion among the leadership team?

3. Record action items.

If you determine that you have a true execution roadblock on your hands, brainstorm solutions and ask what your department head needs from you. Record any action items you decide on and revisit them in next week’s operations meeting.


A Few More Best Practices

Use these pointers to ensure that you’re using Khorus effectively to gather insight and address developing issues:
  • Require comments when a goal goes red. Require that employees always leave a comment when downgrading a goal’s Likelihood or Quality. This lets everyone know the precise nature of the problem.
  • Don’t place blame. As you’re working on solving problems surfaced in Khorus, it’s important to thank the employee for communicating about the problem and never blame or punish them for being honest. Remember: red is good.
  • Think through dependencies. Few goals exist in isolation in your company. If a goal is at risk, what implications does that have for others? For example, if marketing isn’t going to deliver the amount of leads expected, what does the sales team need to do differently? Do other stakeholders need to be alerted?
  • Shelve goals as necessary. Circumstances change quickly in modern organizations, and it may be appropriate to shelve a goal—meaning that you’re consciously deciding to suspend work on it. When shelving a goal, explain the reasoning to the team and discuss how time and effort should be reallocated.
No plan is perfect, but we built Khorus to give you visibility and foresight as you lead your team from week to week. Predicting problems and raising the red flag as soon as they appear can become a part of any organization’s culture. Would you like to start using Khorus to execute your company’s goals predictably? Schedule your demo today!