Can I Borrow a Piece of Chalk

Recently I was facilitating a management meeting with a client and they asked me if tracking metrics at the individual productivity level was worth the effort.

This question jogged my memory about a story I heard about Andrew Carnegie when he was running the predecessor to US Steel.  

Mr. Carnegie visited one of his plants and asked the plant manager how many loads of steel the day shift had done. The plant manager told him they had done 8 loads of steel. When Carnegie asked how many loads the night shift had done, the manager replied 3 loads.

Carnegie asked the plant manager for a piece of chalk. Carnegie took the chalk and wrote on the floor a very large number 8. The plant manager was very confused.

When the plant manager came back the next day to the same spot, he looked on the floor and he saw that the number 8 had been crossed-out by the night shift and they had written a large number 9 on the floor. At the end of the next shift, the day shift had crossed-out the number 9 and written an 11. The next day, the number 11 had been crossed-out by the night shift and been replaced by a 13. 

I told that story to the management team which asked me the question about tracking individual performance. Several weeks later, I was in the management meeting  with the same company. They had started tracking and sharing individual performance and they were amazed at the dramatic improvement in the results they were seeing.  Labour productivity at the company was improving and the managers were very excited. 

Would you like to borrow a piece of chalk for your business?

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