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What's a dashboard and why do I need one?

Think of your car and the elements of your dashboard in the car. How fast you are going, how much fuel is left, engine temperature, battery strength, rpm, what gear are you in and a whole host of emergency and warning lights. Why do you need them? Silly question and most if not all are intuitive. If we don’t watch our speed we get fines or place ourselves in danger. If the fuel gauge reads low, we find fuel or we are left stranded. The warning indicators all require degrees of action to keep us moving forward and enjoying the benefits of our vehicle. And of course if you didn’t know which gear you were in how would know if you are parked, in reverse, or ready to go forward. All simple stuff that we intuitively understand. But the dashboard allows us to have an overview at a quick glace of where and how we’re operating, allowing us to make informed decisions.

A dashboard in business and in your life serves the same purpose. And yes, I suggest we have a dashboard for our life and our business.

How do we build an effective dashboard for business and life? What are the rules in constructing the dashboard? The key is to understand what components need to be monitored and the various things requiring attention at different times. Let’s use the car dashboard as the standard to build our metrics we will follow in our business and life dashboard.

Some basic rules:

Things that get monitored get reviewed and managed. Your car rarely if ever has an indicator that tells you the brake pad life. But it does have a warning light when action is required. Some things require daily or weekly monitoring, other require immediate monitoring. Identify things that are critical to monitor, then identify the frequency of review.

Questions to help you build:

  1. What things require monitoring in your life and/ or business?
  2. What are the most important vital signs? In other words what is your fuel gauge? If you run out you are done, at a standstill.
  3. Of these items requiring review which things require hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. Rule of thumb frequency and importance dictate a need for a gauge on the dashboard. Less frequency and lower sense of urgency requires a warning light, typically doesn’t have a place on a dashboard. Urgent things or high frequency things should be on the dashboard.
  4. Be critical in your review of what gets on your dashboard. Dashboards can’t be cluttered. Less is more, ensuring you respect the above comments (don’t drop the fuel gauge cause it would look less cluttered)

Thinking of categories in business:

  • Revenue or sales
  • Expense control
  • Financial results
  • Cash flow
  • Employee retention
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Production
  • Thru puts

How about in life:

  • Health
  • Physical activity
  • Family budget
  • Savings
  • Retirement plans
  • Monthly expenses
  • Children activities
  • Important dates
  • Special meetings/events

Simply put, in business and in life (just like your car) we need to monitor various key metrics or performance indicators to ensure we are on the right path, safe, progressing and looking after all the key areas.

If we don’t have a life and a business dashboard we are gambling. And the odds are we will eventually breakdown and be stranded.

Develop your life and business dashboard today. It’s a must!!

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” — Antoine de Saint-Exuper

© 2013-2014 R. Todd Millar. All rights reserved.

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