The Corporate Executive Board has posted a useful article on Business Week's website regarding how managers can avoid analysis paralysis. Among their recommendations, they advise the following:
Unclutter dashboards for managers: Even the most
relevant and informative survey data won’t get very far in your
organization if managers cannot readily access them. Our research shows
that managers who transform data into usable information for their teams
can increase business performance by 24 percent. So, focus managers on
what matters by providing them with personalized views of the data they
need to be effective. Streamlined online dashboards provide managers
with instant access to aggregate survey results from their team and
organization overall. Ideally, they highlight areas of strong
performance and opportunities for improvement for each manager, and
equip them with the resources to improve.
I agree completely. Many organizations face metric overload these days. Senior leaders need to think carefully about the priorities of the organization and communicate those to all the troops. Then, the dashboards used to run the business must reflect those priorities. How does one rationalize the metrics and reports being generated? It starts with tying the dashboards closely to senior leadership's priorities. One can go further though. I can recall an exercise we undertook when I worked in corporate finance at a major aerospace firm in the early 1990s. We went out and talked the people who received the reports we generated. We asked them whether they used our reports, and if so, how. We also asked them when was the last time that they had examined each report. It sounds so simple, yet many people who put together dashboards and reports don't actually know how their data are being used. By connecting the dashboard creator and user more closely, one can identify which metrics are most useful.