Imagine that you are well on your way to being a data-enabled organization. You figured out what questions you are asking, defined what success looks like, prioritized your data projects, selected your tools and are now producing dashboards and balance scorecards to support your strategic objectives. But ask yourself — Is anyone reading them?
Make the Time
The biggest challenge organizations face is not creating the dashboard or balanced scorecard but getting people to read and understand it. If your organization is like many others we’ve seen, time is very tight and most people have developed a “just in time” reading style augmented with a scanning technique that would be the envy of any search engine. So why not design reading time right into your meetings?
One of the techniques that has had success is to start by assuming that people did not have the time to read the metrics report. Instead, slot time at the beginning of the meeting for people to read the report and ask questions to clarify their understanding of it. This part of the meeting then becomes a quick study period for the team and removes any of the “guilt” caused by not reading the material.
Advantages to Consider
There are a couple of advantages following this protocol beyond ensuring that people are actually reading the metrics report:
- Questions gradually move from basic questions to deeper ones regarding the strategy of your organization.
- By acknowledging that you need to understand that data first, the decision-making part of the meeting becomes less controversial. In other words, the meeting does not get completely derailed by discussions that “this can’t be right,” “my report says something different,” etc. It effectively neutralizes the data from being used as a political weapon.
Trust Your Gut
While utilizing dashboards and balanced scorecards to enable decision-making is well worth your time, there is one thing you should not forget. Using data does not mean ignoring your gut. Your instincts are still a vital component of the process. Sometimes the GPS is just plain wrong and following it can lead you off a cliff.