Critical Success Factors

Do you know the really important things you have to do to successfully carry out your mission = these are your critical success factors (CSFs).

(The boring history bit �The concept of CSFs was first introduced by D. Ronald Daniel of McKinsey & Co in the 1960�s. It was then built on and popularized a decade or so later by John F. Rockart, of MIT's Sloan School of Management, and has since been used extensively to help businesses implement their strategies and projects)

Why are they important?

Well, if you identify and publicise them, everyone throughout the organisation will understand what really matters � where they should focus their attention.

Because �what gets measured, gets done�, any performance measures must relate to these CSFs.

For example, if an organisation sets out to beat its competitors by offering higher quality products (a key element of its strategy), it clearly needs to focus on, and to measure, those factors that will help it to improve quality. One such example might be staff training and competency development. This suggests that the organisation needs to have aims and targets relating to staff training; and then it needs to measure training � and its effectiveness.

Though there are no �rules�, it is generally agreed that an organisation should identify no more than about 6 CSFs.

To identify CSFs, you should:

� start with your vision and mission

� develop a small number of high level goals or strategic objectives

� translate these into a hierarchy of goals (at different levels) and their success factors

When you think you have selected your most important factors, take a rality check by asking

If we do all these things, will we be successful?

Once you have got them, the goals and the success factors should then be communicated to all who need to know, so that as they work through the actions, they know the things that are really important � and focus on achieving those things.


Productivity is my 'bag' ... it is what I know about. I am President of the World Confederation of Productivity Science - and Director of the National Productivity Centre in the UK - go to this site for some good free resources and some (paid for but low price) e-learning on productivity. I also edit the International Journal of Productivity & Performance Management. My views on productivity and on learning (which I think are related) are su...

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