Zopim Chat

Rodney Brim Report

The Rodney Brim Blog

What are the Critical Success Factors?

April 07, 2010

When you think of critical success factors do you think of something
that will get things done on time or within budget, or do you tend
to think of success factors as tied to money or promotion?

I saw an interesting process occurring this past week that is directly
tied to being successful and wanted to take a moment to run this by you.
We are working on a project for one of our larger customers, who is in
turn using a vendor who is missing their deadlines and isn’t using ManagePro
but this isn’t about ManagePro.

Here’s what was interesting.   They are missing deadlines, and don’t have a clear work plan in place or even a simple risk and mitigation assessment.

When pushed for more visibility on their process, and even simple things like “so what is the completion date for the deliverable that is now behind?” … we got a push back.  Activity, but no significant change.  In response I hear them making the same comments I often hear struggling companies make about  using a project and task management system like ManagePro… but they were talking about their own software system.

We were hearing familiar complaints like: “I don’t have enough time.”  “Why do you need to see what I’m working on?” “That software plan isn’t accurate (it’s not current… and I’m not working at getting it current).”  And the same old tired and slow process of long meetings and fuzzy defined outcomes that rapidly eat away at any organization’s ability to get things done.

Not being successful, in this case in completing projects, seems to inspire
longer hours, more meetings, rationalizations… all sorts of things,
maybe anything but a change in process.  It started me wondering if the
the biggest common denominator for factors relevant to success is
the ability or propensity to switch to what works.

In some ways, like our own body set point, most people resist such a push,
including the push to make a change when they are missing deadlines or
promotions.  We seem to have  comfort level about our preferred work
style and resist the challenge, when it comes, to elevate our game and
work more effectively.

If you don’t know or aren’t prepared for that in others, it can catch you
off guard.  You might focus on the issues being presented for discussion
(an area that’s relatively more comfortable than getting on with the change),
e.g. not enough time, or the software, or something else, instead of
addressing the fact that it’s a success issue and you’re in the middle of a
change process… and change always encounters resistance at one or
more points along the way.

We’ve created a simple rating scale by which we can determine how
effective people in an organization typically work – or how likely they
are to be successful.  It’s not only an helpful rating scale on 9 behaviors
that consistently divide highly effective vs less effective people, it also
turns out to be a good predictive device to assess the relative resistance
to change.  e.g. the more scores at the bottom of the scale, the bigger hill you
have to climb.

Try it out and let us know what you think.  Click here to download it at no cost.
Use it to help your business and your people work more effectively
and focus on the right things.  As good as our software (ManagePro) is at
helping users be more successful, most of the critical stuff is between
people’s ears, after that the software is just a well formed tool.

Bottom Line:

Factors critical to your success, however you define success, are tightly
grouped across 9 behaviors or habits we have observed.  However the
most important factor may not be a behavior at all, but rather the personal
skill and capacity needed to pay attention to the results of your work style
and (continue to) make  the changes required to help you be even more
successful.  Doing what works, versus what’s comfortable, is a powerful
driver for success.

2 Comments. Leave new

Bart Miller
April 7, 2010 4:17 pm

Hey Rodney,

Thanks for the article/blog. I understand your last one about negatives being powerful, but I’m a bit tossed on the SuccessFactors.xls spreadsheet. Specifically, the nine named areas all seem important and yet, (call me out, btw)I can’t connect the dots to figure out how to use it.

Let me explain quickly–are these your weighting as to the weight I’d give a certain individual factor as I (or my team member) evaluate their own propensity to value the specific factor in themselves on a scale of say, 1 to 10? So that upon completion (and whether I’d put in my own last factor or not) I’d have a weighted “score” with which to benchmark them?

Or is this more of a listing of good traits (factors) that I need to rerank / weight myself for our company? And do I use it as a standalone just to point out these needs?

I’m confused, but I’m also pretty sure this missive is confusing, so, if you have any time to talk about it, I’d really appreciate it. Mobile is 314-393-1419. Understood if that answer is “no”. But if it is “no”, could you give me a bit more direction on how to actually use the spreadsheet? Or is it much more simple than this and I’m to understand that all of these factors should be as close to 100% each when evaluating various team members (hopefully objectively) and that the aggregate average will then give me insights into that “hill” I may have to climb with each of them….thanks as always for your insights.

Take care,

Bart Miller
Goetze Dental Co.


I basically look at each factor and rate what % of the time (from 0-100%) is this occurring. E.g. each factor gets rated, I don’t sum them, although why not, that would be valuable as well.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *