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Cautions on using EP wisely
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We ve been using a current measure of EP as our metric for shareholder perspective and performance measurement However, using current EP as the sole criterion for project selection can lead you astray since it is a snapshot in time The right measure is to look at the value creation (EP over time) and judge the value of your business with and without a particular product/service In the main, a high negative EP is often a destroyer of value over time, and vice versa But there are exceptions and cautions: If offering performance is cyclical, EP may be positive at the peak of the cycle (and result in underinvestment) or negative at the trough of the cycle (and appear a likely candidate for rationalization) For instance, looking at athletic wear sales in November is probably going to unfairly rank the swimsuit products as being low volume/EP If offerings are at the beginning of their life cycle, you expect EP to be low but the future value of the product or service could be high Be aware of potential obsolescence: A high EP now doesn t mean much if the product or service is obsolete in a year or two
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One other caution: If there is any danger in the use of EP it is due to an , excessive focus on the value destroyers rather than the value creators If an offering has a high EP the company may assume it has a unique , advantage It may then underinvest in the high EP business leaving the offerings vulnerable to attack For example, Iomega dominated the market for magnetic mass storage (the Bernoulli Box ) and became strongly profitable in the early 1990s Management decided to enter the mature tape memory business to increase growth rates This was a high-investment, low-return business that drained engineering resources from the lucrative Bernoulli box business and opened up a window for a competitor The only valid measure of investment decisions and project selection is the discounted value of EP over a 3 to 5 year horizon If you have some doubts as to growth rates, perform the calculation for a range of reasonable values One example is shown in Figure 86
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Figure 86: Projecting EP Gains Over Time
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Power of Prioritizing Projects by EP Over Time
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Cash in-flow (less invested capital %)
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Project B Project A
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Managerial commitment to initial growth period
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1 2 3 4 5
Growth rate slows after initial period
Year after initiation
In evaluating whether to invest in various projects, it helps to use metrics that evaluate not only current Economic Profit (EP), but the discounted value of EP over time In year 1, Project A looks superior, but from a 5-year perspective, Project B is the clear winner
This is another reason for regularly returning to the Strategic Profile analysis (bubble chart analysis) to guard against complacency
8: Build a Complexity Value Agenda
Completing and Interpreting a Complexity Matrix
Figure 87 shows PCE and other data translated into a Complexity Matrix
Figure 87: Complexity Matrix
Total for Each Family
Service Family
Process Step 1
Process Step 2
Process Step 3
Process Step 4
% EP$ (million) Commonality
A B C D
19% 43% 128% 382%
23% 28% 127% 476%
14% 60% 144% 183%
59% 60% 310% 175%
115% 191% 709% 1216%
309 102 53 (213)
10% 14% 4% 7%
This Complexity Matrix is for a company with four-step value stream through which four main service families travel Service Families A and B are both high volume; Families C and D are low volume (* = elements common to all services in this family)
The fundamental purpose of a Complexity Matrix is to determine whether PCE is being destroyed by a process activity (look down the matrix columns, as shown in Figure 88) or by a product or service (look across the matrix rows, as shown in Figure 89)
The penalty for overlooking future Economic Profit At Texas Instruments in the 1990s, the Economic Profit of Germanium transistors was very positive but that of Integrated Circuits was negative (the latter was still its the infancy of its life cycle) A competent but internally focused Operations VP proposed, and received approval for, a large capex budget request for Germanium production Integrated Circuits, meanwhile, was starved pending its becoming profitable The VP of Marketing, having perceived the change in market trends, was furious but unable to alter the decision, saying: This guy will make his plan but we will miss the market! TI s lack of early investment in Integrated Circuits opened up a gap for Bob Noyce (then of Fairchild Semiconductor, later of Intel fame) to dominate industrial Integrated Circuits for about three years before TI counterattacked with powerful new products
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