A year or so ago, a friend recommended “The Outsiders.” It is a book by William Thorndike about eight of the most successful CEOs as measured by the increase in their company’s per share price. As Thorndike explains: “The metric that the press usually focuses on is growth in revenues and profits. It’s the increase in a company’s per share value, however, not growth in sales or earnings or employees, that offers the ultimate barometer of a CEO’s greatness…In assessing performance, what matters isn’t the absolute rate of return but the return relative to peers and the market. You really only need to know three things to evaluate a CEO’s greatness: the compound annual return to shareholders during his or her tenure and the return over the same period for peer companies and for the broader market (usually measured by the S&P 500).”
I liked the fact that one could distil performance down to a single number. I was reminded of this recently when Fortune had an article recently about the success and popularity of the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Wrote Fortune: “All this devotion for a particular measure of customer sentiment? It may seem bizarre, but the phenomenon is real and growing. At least two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 use the Net Promoter Score, including most or all of the financial service companies, airlines, telecom companies, retailers, and others. Quietly, steadily, without anyone much noticing, NPS has moved into the C-suites of most big companies and the owners’ offices of thousands of small ones—extending its reach deeply and broadly through the global economy. Skeptics and enemies have largely been vanquished. It is now used in every developed economy and many emerging ones. It’s pored over in all types of organizations, not just businesses; in Britain, the National Health Service uses it. As organizations everywhere obsess over the customer experience, NPS’s advance across industries and countries is, if anything, accelerating.”
This set me thinking. Just like a CEO’s performance over time could be measured via the increase in the company’s per share value and consumer sentiment could be assessed via NPS, could something similar be done to predict revenue?
Tomorrow: The One Number To Predict Revenue (Part 2)