Lead Measures vs. Lag Measures

A key part of the Navel Model is step number 7, Measurements. I have long been a believer that sales, profits, and other measurements that end up on an income statement are too broad and difficult to control. It is more important to identify what I have often called triggers, or the smaller measurements that influence future performance.

It wasn’t until I attended a seminar about a new book and framework from Franklin Covey called The 4 Disciplines of Execution that I stumbled across two terms that explain this concept succinctly. Authors Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling call these Lag Measures and Lead Measures. A Lag Measures measures the ultimate goal you are trying to accomplish, such as an increase in sales or profits, however, it is always in the past… hence the term Lag. Make no mistake, Lag Measures are critically important, but once you see a Lag Measure, there is nothing more that can be done about it. For instance, once you see the weekly sales report, it is just that… last week’s sales. You can try to do better next week, but nothing can be done about last week.

Lead Measures, on the other hand, are both predictive, meaning they lead to the accomplishment of the Lag Measure or goal, and they are influenceable, meaning you can do something about them. Lead Measures are about narrowing your focus down to the 2 or 3 things that “trigger” success, or your end goal. For example, it could be number of out-of-stock items in a retail store, number of subscribers to an eNewsletter for an eCommerce website, or compliance to 8 key safety standards for a construction company.

The last key to creating an organization worth talking about is to identify 2-3 Lead Measures, or triggers, and measure them religiously. Only then can you drive true results.


8 thoughts on “Lead Measures vs. Lag Measures

  1. Thank you. i have a better understanding of lag and lead measures and I will give you credit for the help you gave me in my report.

  2. Pingback: Small Business Profit: The ONE Metric that Matters Most - Build Live Give

  3. Pingback: What is the key to indicating performance? - Understand Business

  4. Pingback: Small Business Profit: The ONE Metric that Matters Most - Build Live Give

  5. Trying to come up with a lead measure for student engagement (community service projects) Having a hard time coming up with proper wording to make it measurable.

    • Jill, identifying lead measures can be difficult, but there are two keys – predictive and influence-able. It has to be able to predict the outcome of your lag measures and has to be something you can do something about. Maybe recruitment could be a lead measure (i.e. how many students show up for a project), social media engagement around a particular project, or confirmations. Would love to know more about what you are trying to accomplish.

  6. Pingback: Small Business Profit: The ONE Metric that Matters Most

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s