The Great Game of Business Blog

Sign up to receive our blog posts conveniently in your email box

Why is Choosing a Critical Number™ So Important?

Aug 22, 2019 by Steve Baker 0 Comments

Why Choosing a CN is So Important

At any given time in your business, there is one thing, an operational or financial number that represents a weakness or vulnerability that, if not addressed and corrected, will negatively impact the overall performance and long-term security of the business. This one thing is known as your company’s Critical Number™. Ultimately, the Critical Number defines winning. It rallies people around a common goal and directs a focus to what’s most important to the company’s success. 

From this definition, it’s clear to see why identifying a Critical Number is valuable to your business, but the Critical Number is also very important to your employees. If they do not understand and buy-in to the Critical Number, it is likely that this number will continue to go unnoticed. Here are three key ways the right Critical Number will strengthen your business:

1. It Provides Focus

Giving people a never-ending list of goals is like not having any goals at all. Having dozens of performance measures and targets and driving hard to achieve them all won’t help you get results. Measure what matters most by finding a few significant measurements rather than many. Creating this focus will help you to achieve the large-scale goals that will have the greatest impact on your company.

2. It Establishes a Common Goal

Be sure to give everyone the same set of goals.  We don’t want to send people mixed messages on what’s most important. Turn success into a team effort by giving everyone the same focused objectives, and be sure they have to work together to achieve them. This way, we either win together or lose together.

3. It Promotes Education

We want goals that keep people focused on the fundamentals of business: making money and generating cash. We also want goals that make the company stronger by eliminating our weaknesses and growing strategically. Finally, we want goals that educate people about the different aspects of the business and teach people exactly what it takes to be successful. The Critical Number provides a learning opportunity that becomes part of the everyday process of running the business. In order for your team to improve the conditions that impact the Critical Number, they must first understand what the number is, how it is created, where it is now, and where it needs to be to create results.

The real magic of the Critical Number isn’t in the number itself, it’s in the process of getting to the number. Choosing a Critical Number will provide company-wide focus, establish a common goal throughout the organization and promote education at all levels of the company. To begin the process of establishing your own Critical Number, answer these questions:

In the next year, what is the one thing…

  • That is going to have the greatest impact on your business?
  • You must achieve in order to succeed, or maybe even survive?
  • That will clearly define winning for your company?

Establishing and understanding this number is an important step to getting everyone focused and accountable for results in an open-book company.


Check out our Critical Number Selection Tool to help guide you in determining your company's Critical Number, and consider joining us at the next Get in the Game Workshop to further create a culture of accountability in your organization.

New call-to-action


Other articles you might like:

Topics: Critical Number™

Steve Baker
Written by Steve Baker

Steve Baker is vice president of The Great Game of Business, Inc. Steve coauthored Get in the Game as well as the update of the number one bestseller, The Great Game of Business—20th Anniversary Edition. Known for his engaging and irreverent style, Steve is a top-rated, sought-after speaker and coach on open-book management, strategy and execution, leadership, and employee engagement. His audiences range from Harvard University to the Department of Defense, and he is a regular at Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5000 Conference. He has served on the Board of the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) and SRC Holding’s Ownership Culture Initiative. Steve is an award-winning artist and lives in Springfield, Missouri, with his trophy wife, JoAnn, and three above-average children.

More than 376,500 Times the GGOB Blog Has Been a Trusted Source for Information on OBM

Lists by Topic

see all

About The Great Game of Business

Our approach to running a company was developed to help close one of the biggest gaps in business: the gap between managers and employees. We call our open-book approach The Great Game of Business. What lies at the heart of The Game is a very simple proposition: The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the outcome. Let us teach you how to develop a culture of ownership, where employees think, act and feel like owners.