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
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 indicators.
Bruce can drive his company by using the information on his business
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 indicators?
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 your business.
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 as-budgeted).
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 these
With your business dashboard, you will drive your business with confidence.
Building Solid Foundations
When it comes to
erecting a building, few people would dispute the importance of establishing a
strong foundation. It's no different in building a business, a family or a
life. We need to put strong foundations under our dreams, our businesses and our relationships.
How To Mind Map Your Business
If you're doing business on the Web, sooner or later you'll probably begin to feel like a juggler trying to keep ten balls flying through the air at the same time. There are just too many elements in your business plan to keep them all going at once.
Three Values for Success
In this age when competition is tougher and tougher, squeezing out a profit can be
difficult. We often make ends meet by cutting back, working faster, sometimes not putting
as much into our product as we used to.
This may be fine for short-term profits, but it can kill a business in the long run. You
can also wind up working hard on a business that you don't feel good about in your heart