RAG Status

What is a good RAG status …..50 Shades of Green?

I woke up this morning to the memory of an old friend.

I was supporting him within a large UK banking organisation when he had a ‘moment’. There we were, in front of a team of senior managers and, for whatever reason the red mist descended. His emotions had got the better of him, due to the apparent lack of action from the senior leadership team. He angrily blurted out “Do you know what it’s like managing here… 50 shades of green!”. This was around the time everyone had read the book and had started flocking to the cinema to watch “50 Shades of Grey”. I thought “wow, what a statement!” but what did he actually mean?

It’s important to understand, the RAG status was the way the bank measured itself. My old friend was sick and tired of hearing how everything is green, and yet, we have failing SLA’s, poor customer feedback, high attrition of staff, poor retention of customers, but hey, everything’s green. ‘

Which means either the figures are being fudged or far more likely – THEY ARE NOT THE RIGHT MEASURES, TO BEGIN WITH.

Here success was about everything being green and if you had a measure that wasn’t ‘green’, then as a leader your job was to make up a plausible reason as to why it wasn’t green, often despite whatever difficulty really made it red. This behaviour is something we call ‘Managing the measures’. Instead of managing the business and servicing customers, we’re managing the measures. Everything is green as the ship is slowly sinking.

Is a RAG status a good measure?

I’m sure there are times when it could be appropriate. But generally speaking, is it sufficiently complex enough to drive leaders into action on their system? Does it help them understand where and how should they act if, god forbid, they had a proper ‘red’? And more importantly, do your measures reflect what really matters to the organisation?

This is a fundamental part about the way we approach ‘measures’ at Leanconsulting.com. We need measures that drive the right behaviour in leaders, A RAG status really isn’t clever enough to make itself leadership proof. This is why we help our clients discover ‘better measures’, ones that illuminate the customer journey, ones that make it obvious for leaders to make the correct customer service decisions upon. That way, the measures are leadership proof and customer centric.

Thanks for reading. We are Lean Consulting, this is what we do, transforming your business to focus on the journeys of your customer.


Andrew McLean