Hiroshi "Mickey" Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten, Inc.
@hmikitani_e
Photo: Mickey at his desk at Rakuten Crimson House, Tokyo.

How was your day?

If you need to wait until tomorrow to have all the information to answer that question, you are far, far too late.

In today’s fast-moving world, companies and individuals must have the information to assess their progress. And while in the past it may have been appropriate to get a daily report, now that time frame is much tighter. At Rakuten, we set a series of key performance indicators to help us understand how we are setting and meeting our goals. While we used to assess KPI performance daily, I now encourage our team to take advantage of the speed of new technology and seek updates hourly.

This is not a question of asking everyone to work faster. From my perspective, the constant flow of information is a way to improve our professional performance and our human experience. The way I see it, all human beings want to contribute. They want to participate and be positive influences on what they do. They want to do well. The more relevant information they have to inform them on how to achieve, the more they will want to improve their operations.

Our use of KPI data is sometimes obvious and sometimes behind the scenes. We use it, for example, to assess sales on Rakuten Ichiba, contract sales on Rakuten Mobile or booking status on Rakuten Travel, and to make timely adjustments as a result. The more frequent your PDCA (plan, do, check, act) cycles, the better. Another benefit is that hourly KPIs allow individual sales teams to assess their relative performance in comparison with others, and to learn from them where appropriate.

We have already seen in Rakuten that good KPI management creates success. Units that have strong KPI management skills bring in better results. This shows us that human beings are positively influenced by this process. We don’t want an experience that is ambiguous. As human beings, we want to stop and face the results. It’s like sports – you don’t want an estimate tomorrow of how the game went today. You want to know how you’re doing during play so that you can adjust and achieve your best result.

This is a change all of us at the company must process, myself included. In the early days of our company, I received a daily binder full of printouts of the previous day’s results. I continue to update my own process so that I am connected to the data coming in and I’m using my time to respond productively as the CEO.

Every business unit should know its hourly results. Perhaps someday, some of the businesses will be updated in real time, every minute. Information inspires and guides us to do better.