August 9, 2010

The Value (and Limitations) of Benchmarking

The Value (and Limitations) of Benchmarking I think I am starting to drive my team nuts a little bit. I have suggested, prodded, and executed a ton of external benchmarking projects this year, all of which have different leaders inside Return Path doing both systematic and ad hoc phone calls and meetings with peer companies and aspirational peer companies to understand how we compare to them in terms of specific metrics, practices, and structures.  It’s some combination of the former management consultant in me rearing its head, and me just trying to make sure that we stay ahead of the curve as we rapidly scale our business this year. Why go through an exercise like this?  One answer is that you don’t want to reinvent the wheel.  If a non-competitive comparable company has solved a problem or done some good creative thinking, then I say “plagiarize with pride,” especially if you’re sharing your best practices with them.  The reality of scaling a business is that things change when you go from 50 to 100 people, or 150 to 300, or 300 to 1,000 — and unless you and your entire executive team have “been there, done that” at all levels, […]