The Say-Do Ratio

Before I took the stage to deliver a keynote at a recent event, the CEO of my host company addressed the 1,200 distribution partners, employees, and customers in the audience. In his remarks, he reinforced his company’s commitment to having a positive integer for what he described as their Say-Do Ratio.

If the ratio was under 1:1, with less doing than saying, there was a problem that needed to be corrected immediately. On the other hand, if his company were living up to its promise, there would be less saying and more doing. A positive ratio of this simple but important metric meant that the company was delivering on its commitments, serving the industry, and caring for customers.

We live in a world of empty promises, broken commitments, and exaggerated assurances. It’s easy to talk a good game, but actions are what count. Sales puffery and vague pledges end up coming back to bite the careless who espouse action but deliver only hot air. The long-term impact on credibility, relationships, and progress just isn’t worth the temptation of over-extended promises.

With today’s near-maniacal focus on key metrics, dashboards, and KPIs, perhaps it’s time to measure and track the good old-fashioned virtue of doing what we say. If you agree to deliver a document by the end of the week, don’t let the weekend come without fulfilling your commitment. If you promise a customer you’ll make sure the shipment arrives safely, use every ounce of your being to fulfill the obligation. If you commit to making an email introduction, make 100% sure it doesn’t slip through the cracks.

Long-term relationships are fueled by a positive Say-Do Ratio and can be easily damaged when words and actions are inconsistent. Your reputation depends on ensuring your Say-Do stays in the black. No matter how charming or charismatic you may be, your customers, partners, and team members will eventually sniff you out as a phony if you don’t deliver on your promises.

This impressive CEO’s speech concluded with him sharing his personal email and mobile number with the audience. He implored those in attendance to contact him immediately if his company dips below his mandate for a positive Say-Do Ratio. This guy walked the walk, and there’s no doubt in my mind his company will continue to enjoy record growth and profits.

In our complex world, reconnect to the simple and time-tested approach of less saying and more doing. Get your ratio right, and your own success numbers will grow accordingly. Expand your ratio; expand your progress.