Counting on What Counts

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The saying goes that not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. Those are excellent words to live by in both personal and business relationships.

I especially like the nuance of the first part of the quote because all too often companies are seeking the holy grail of “value,” but it is often hard to physically count and monetize value. Value in business is like “freedom,” “love” and “peace.” We know we like it, but it can’t really be quantified.

Take for example a company’s quest to get better in J.D. Power Rankings. When Jaguar partnered with Unipart Logistics the goal was to go from worst to first on the famous customer satisfaction ranking for service parts logistics. But what is the value of an increased percentage in J.D. Powers ranking? It certainly counted (mattered and was of high value to Jaguar). And one could argue it could be physically counted because JD Powers has a “score.” But what was the actual value? Can one really quantify the value when Jaguar moved from worst to first in the J.D. Powers ranking after only seven years by working with Unipart to help solve their service parts logistics problems?

Far too often business people – especially those in finance and procurement – want immediate, tangible and “countable” monetary savings. Perhaps it’s time to start counting what counts but what can’t always be counted as an immediate monetary gain.

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