Supply Chain Blog

FMCG/Pharma KPI Scorecard; Traffic Light Colours Explained

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Oct 02, 2013

Those of a certain age and a fondness for seriously daft comedy may recognise these lines from a Monty Python song. The full version is available here but this short section provides the general gist of the lyrical content quality:

He likes traffic lights,
He likes traffic lights,
He likes traffic lights,
But only when they're green.
I like traffic lights,
I like traffic lights,
I like traffic lights,
That is what I said.
I like traffic lights,
I like traffic lights,
I like traffic lights,
But not when they are red.

No, honestly this is a real music track. Classic lyrics don’t you think?


There are numerous interpretations to what the different colours and sequence of traffic lights actually mean depending on your location. Taking the UK as an example: 

  • Red (stop)
  • Red and amber (stop, indicating the light will turn green)
  • Green (proceed with caution)
  • Amber (stop if possible to do so as the light is about to change to red) 
After visiting 40+ countries and collating the driving experience I find that these lights can also apparently mean: 
  • Red (read a newspaper and/or re-do lipstick, rev the engine, ogle pedestrians, talk on telephone)
  • Red and amber (rev the engine louder and have the clutch biting at 1st gear, honk horn at girls, dramatically flick hair back)
  • Green (release clutch & screech ahead with abandonment shouting at slow pedestrians to move. Pick up telephone)
  • Amber (put your foot down & drive faster before red appears as you have already read the newspaper and the phone is out of battery)  
Supply Chain KPIsNow that may well be an extreme generalisation but I bet everyone sees some of that behaviour every day. What about at work? If your business is well run you should also be seeing traffic lights in the form of a KPI Scorecard on a daily basis. This is designed to make current performance and trends crystal clear to everyone without having to delve into endless data. In a typical FMCG or Pharmaceutical company the KPI traffic lights should mean: 
  • Red (the measure is significantly behind the target and requires top team focus to implement improvement)
  • Amber (the measure is slightly outside allowed limits and requires attention to ensure no further drift. Take actions to bring the measure back within acceptable parameters)
  • Green (proceed with caution. Measure is on target but still requires vigilance) 

The point about the K in KPI is that the measures you choose to monitor on a weekly or monthly basis are indeed key, important, vital. You do not measure something that makes no difference to the business as a whole so amber or red lights mean you business is off course and needs top team attention, immediately!

As in the case with driving a car I am sure you can allocate some other non-ideal behaviours to these colours! Please feel free to comment with your suggestions.

Image courtesy of digitalart at freedigitalphotos.net

Tagss: Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Dave Jordan, Humour, Performance Improvement, Pharma, KPI