A Dashboard for Life
A business dashboard that reflects a summary of insights based on data can be a valuable tool for a management team to track performance and make decisions.
Peter Drucker, the management guru, said, “measuring results and performance is crucial to an organisation’s effectiveness.”
Typical business dashboard elements may include sales growth, new customer acquisition, profit margins, top salespeople, production volumes, product mix, you name it, and measure it; it can be quantified and summarised into a neat chart.
Cutting and dicing data to discover insights can be very rewarding. It is especially rewarding to reveal to a client an important insight that they didn’t know about.
It can be quite revealing to have a conversation about what needs to go on a dashboard. For the most part, management wants to display financial performance and the metrics closely related to the achievement of financial goals.
In a recent discussion with a client about what they measure, I asked if we should include a measure for “human burn out”?
I got a look from the client that I interpreted as follows, “are you serious? Why would we include something like that?” I smiled and shrugged my shoulders. “Oh, you are being serious”, the client said to me. “We can’t measure that”, was the dismissive response. “Oh yes I can”, I thought to myself, with a smirk on my face.
My nature is to ask these questions because I generally know that the question will be dismissed and reveal more about a management team than they would typically want to share.
As much as I love tinkering with Excel dashboards, I wonder about another type of dashboard that doesn’t require Excel. I asked myself, “what would go on my dashboard that reveals how I am doing at the game of life?” I couldn’t help but wonder if I would include a measure for burnout?
Several years ago, I listened to a Tim Ferris podcast where he discussed a daily scoreboard to measure how he performed every day. Based on several criteria, he scored himself a 1, 2, or 3. Over time he collected data and judged his performance in life across the different measurements. That sounded like complete overkill, but I was prompted to consider the measures I would want to be more conscious of.
Before creating my dashboard, I had to work around my anxiety relating to “am I saving enough?” Putting that question aside allowed me to look at several key “measurements” that were buried beneath that. My dashboard measures the following: time in the present, time on the road (that’s running or health and fitness), screen/work time (that is mostly earning a living), and family time. When I say “measures”, that is a very loose term for “being conscious of” and noticing how I feel about each element. Spending too much time in the screen/work zone is a red flag, and my dashboard “shouts” at me and tells me to go and do something else. I’ve had to learn to listen for the shouts.
Think about your dashboard of life. You might surprise yourself at what shouts at you. The thing is, are you listening?