Former G.E. honcho Jack Welch enjoys using the oft-quoted business mantra, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” which is ironic considering he helmed one of the corporations that played a major role in our bubble-burst-depressed-economy.

The Air Force created the wingman position to make bombers, who were so narrowly focused on hitting their targets, more aware of their surroundings.

The focus on metrics and quantifiable outcomes is equivalent to a bombardier with blinders on and no wingman. The real world is emotional, chaotic, variable, and dynamic. All the best things in life — love, happiness, joy, pleasure, sadness, friendship, parenthood, etc. — don’t come with measuring sticks. They feel right or they feel wrong.

The worst part about focusing on metrics is that you are in charge of determining what it is you measure, which immediately places bias on the system, yielding biased results. How many of you have received a survey and in filling it out thought, “This survey sucks. They aren’t even asking about the crappy part of their process!”

It’s about people

If you’re a remodeler, you are in the service industry. That means you are evaluated by people based on their experience and feelings about you. Everything is subjective, and using their scale, not yours. Additionally, the way your team (subs, staff, vendors) feels about you and your client influences the success of the project as measured by the client’s feelings. Talk about a nebulous, interconnected system!

What if I told you it wasn’t limited to the project? — that your company was being measured daily by the family, friends, and acquaintances of everyone you work with. Some of you will find this scary. Some will instantly see the massive potential here. (If you do see the potential and are not already invited to winter-camp.com, I apologize. Please join us in March.) Your tribe-building opportunity costs very little, yet has resounding impact. However, like any good brand-building campaign, it is ongoing, long-running, and almost impossible to measure.

You can have great systems and mediocre culture and fail miserably. You can have poor systems and great culture and be successful. When you combine good systems with excellent culture (and get out of the way), you can be wildly successful!


—Michael Anschel is owner and principal of Otogawa-Anschel Design Build, serves on the board of Minnesota Greenstar, and is CEO of Verified Green. michael@verifiedgreen.org