When the most fundamental truths about operating a successful company are repeated and repeated, they are seen as trite and can be ignored. The one I'm thinking about today is, "You Can't Manage What You Don't Measure."
A mantra oft recited. Yet somehow, regularly missed in the operation of small and mid-market companies. Companies that underperform are usually doing so in large part because they don't know why they are underperforming. They simply don't track their key performance indicators.
Sometimes that's because they don't bother, but sometimes that's because they don't know what those key performance indicators are. Or to use the metaphor of the "dashboard" for the list of key performance indicators, sometimes the driver ignores the gauges, but sometimes they don't have any gauges at all.
The solution to the former lies in improved discipline. The solution to the latter lies in tracing those aspects of operations that can firstly be measured, and secondly have the highest relationship to the success of the business. In different industries, those can be very different things – SaaS companies will be keenly interested in Customer Acquisition Costs, manufacturing companies in throughput. But consistently, key performance indicators exist and by paying attention to them, Management can get a sense of where their company is underperforming and to what degree.
It is surprising how many companies operate without a temperature gauge, or choose to ignore it, then don't know why their radiator cap blows and steam spews from the hood.