by Gary Lockwood
When you are driving down the road, a quick glance at your car's
dashboard gives you a lot of information. In an instant, you know
how fast you're going, how much fuel you have remaining and whether
the engine is overheating.
Your dashboard tells you the total miles the car has been driven
and often, the mileage of this particular trip. Your peek at the
dashboard allows you to see the time of day, whether your lights
are on (or bright) and if the turn indicators are flashing.
All this information is available by a fleeting look at the dashboard.
Many new car dashboards offer even more useful data and indicators.
One of my clients, Bruce, is CEO of a very efficient manufacturing
company. Bruce has created a dashboard for his business.
With one quick look, Bruce can see total sales this month and
year-to-date. He gets a reading of his backlog, amount of overtime
consumed and his on-time-delivery measurements.
At a glance, Bruce's business dashboard shows him his up-to-the-
minute profitability figures, the percentage of production capacity
scheduled for the next 30 days, and a dozen other key performance
Bruce can drive his company by using the information on his
What are you looking at as you're driving your company? Do you
drive your company (or your car) blindly? How easily (and quickly)
can you get crucial information on all your key performance
One of my clients (let's call him Mike) was telling me how important
it is to him that he sells long-term maintenance contracts, not just
ad hoc projects.
Makes sense. The long-term contracts provide some stability and
predictable cash flow. They assist in getting closer to his clients.
They also help him to borrow funds more easily.
So far, so good.
When I asked him how many of these long-term maintenance contracts he has already, he couldn't tell me. He didn't know! He said he's been too busy to track the number of such agreements.
Wait a minute! If this type of agreement is so important to Mike's
growth strategy, how can he not know the status?
The fact is that most owners and CEOs know what's important to
their enterprise, but can't (or don't) measure those things.
You've heard the old maxim: "You can't manage what you don't
Here's my suggestion: Identify the five to ten key measurements and
key performance indicators that are important and essential for
Set up an active system to measure and track these indicators. This
could consist of a couple of pages of printed reports or it can be
as sophisticated as a web-based, interactive, real-time display.
The important thing is that you get this data daily. It should show
only the key performance indicators (with details easily available
elsewhere). Ideally, the data would be color-coded to show which of
the indicators are in the "red zone" (needs immediate attention),
in the "yellow zone" (caution) or in the "green zone" (OK and
Use your business dashboard each day to decide which areas of your
operation you should be concerned about and which are candidates
for longer-term strategy. Look for the indicators that suggest a
delegation of enhancement projects. Watch the trend lines.
Chances are, you'll get what you're looking for - improvements in
With your business dashboard, you will drive your business with
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About the Author...Gary Lockwood, Your Business Coach, is Increasing Effectiveness and Enhancing Lives of CEOs, business owners and professionals.