Actions Speak Louder than Words

Business Tip submitted by Patrick

We have all heard the phrase ” actions speak louder than words”, but do we know where it started, what the speaker meant, and what it should compel us to do?

Well, the 16th-century French writer Michel de Montaigne, is generally credited with inventing the essay, proclaimed, “Saying is one thing and doing is another.”  And before him, St. Francis of Assisi, who embodied this principle, is widely credited with saying, “Preach the gospel at all times.  Use words if necessary.”  I believe this is a direct reference to the Bible verse in James that compels the reader to not just be hearers of the Word, but Doers also.

All three statements speak to the same thing, right?  Without action, little gets done.  You could also conclude that it is better to actually do something than to just talk about it.  Lastly, I have heard the version. “practice what you preach”.

In business we compel action with metrics.  The adage “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” is pure truth.  Another way to look at it is “what’s is measured, gets done”.  The problem is most small businesses don’t measure anything.

To begin, we’ll define a few of the terms.

Measure: to ascertain the measurements of, Measurement: The figure, extent, or amount obtained by measuring, Metric: A standard of measurement and Benchmark: A standard by which others may be measured.

So we collect data (measurements), determine how those will be expressed as a standard (metric), and compare the measurement to the benchmark to evaluate progress.

So how do we decide what to measure?  Simple.  Measure those activities or results that are important to successfully achieving your organization’s goals and objectives.  Key Performance Indicators, also known as KPI or Key Success Indicators (KSI), help an organization define and measure progress toward its goals.  These are not always financial.  Oftentimes they can be related to process improvements or efficiency factors.

Here’s an example.  If you have several marketing programs to drive lead generation, you would want to track the results.  For example, you could track:

  • how many leads come in (list them on a sheet of paper next to the phone)
  • how they come in (phone, internet, mail, etc.)
  • what source they come from (how did you hear about us)
  • did you discount the sale to get the business, etc.

As you can see, if it impacts your goals (like growing sales), then it would be valuable to determine how sales are being grown.

This is the beginning, not the end, of a process that will radically change your business.  Build this foundation and your business will stand the test of time.

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