Dashboards by objectives

The founder was sitting on a mountain of data, and he knew it. He had a great team, but some how there was still a gap. The dashboard he was receiving was decent, but still not providing him with the kind of insights he was looking for. Thats why we were meeting at 9 in the evening on a Wednesday with the data analyst, a smart guy who clearly loved getting his teeth into complex data questions. 

“I have all sorts of data, just tell me what you want me to find”

This was actually a common comment from many data guys in many companies we work with, so I was prepared for the response… the predictable “I’m hoping the data can give me insights”

Expecting data to reveal insights is actually somewhat of a fallacy, that’s like expecting the ingredients in a kitchen to cook themselves into the perfect dish you were hoping to eat at just that moment. The question remains, how do you bridge the gap.

Its actually a straight forward solution, that’s remarkably simply, and it goes back to the fundamentals of ensuring alignment with the company’s vision, mission, goals and objective.

Typically dashboards are pretty bland, with heading like location, GMV, sales, and other such riveting topics. But that’s like having a menu with names like ‘bread’, ‘soup’ – not only not very inspiring, they don’t really give much away about the content. 

So what need to happen before we start touching the ingredients is for the head-chef to speak to the customer and help the customer really come to an agreement of what he’s in the mood for. Having that context and discussion allows for debate, questions and further digging that can allow the nuance to be revealed. The conclusion of such a meeting should be a list of very important, specific and clear questions. 

As a trick, title each section of the dashboard with the question as the title, this ‘hack’ acts as a prompt to really think about the kind of data, the kind of analysis and the kind of insight is meaning in the context of the question, and helps align both the reader and the creator on the context of the content. 

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