So far in our small business strategy, we have covered the various forms of intention planning. You have created your missional intent and then have set up your strategic intent by creating 12-month objectives. The next step was to create your implementation intent by establishing your leading activities that are predictable, measurable, and focused. These should then affect your lagging metrics which are what ultimately impact your strategic objectives.

The last step in our small business strategy is to make sure these leading and lagging metrics are visible.

You and your team need to know at a glance if you are winning or losing. Regular scorekeeping and monitoring of your progress on leading measures are what make sure it gets done. And if the leading measure gets done, the lagging measure will naturally happen.

Visible metrics engage people and keeps everyone on track toward the goal. Think about the scoreboard in any sporting event. It is always huge and easy to read. The team can quickly know if they are winning or losing. In the same way, a dashboard is like a scoreboard that provides quick and simple feedback to the team.

Metrics on the board should be activities that you and your team can affect. You don’t want to put abstract measurements here that no one knows what they need to do in order to effect change. This will lead to frustration and lost interest from your team. But, when they can see both the lead and lag, they get feedback. They can see how their activities (the leading measures) are affecting results (the lagging measures). If there are changes that need to be made because of faulty assumptions or activities that aren’t affecting the results, you can clearly see this. You can quickly make adjustments to your tactics so that your overall strategic objectives stay on track.

A dashboard will allow you to see the reality of your assumptions. To take a sales example. If you are assuming that 20% of your leads become a sale, but it is showing 10% on the board, this is a good reality check. If this continues over time, your metric goals will need to be updated. Or maybe there needs to be some specific training around how to close deals better. Or possibly there are some updates that need to be made to the product that is being sold to better solve the customer’s need.

When creating your dashboard, it should be:

  1. Simple. Your team needs to know if they are winning or losing. This provides motivation. In the right environment of trust, where everyone knows they are on the same side and aren’t concerned about their job being on the line, people galvanize around healthy external pressure. This is especially true when you have connected the leading metric to the lagging metric to the strategic objective to the mission.
  2. Visible. It should be easy to see. One way to accomplish this is to put it on the wall either on paper or on a display. Another way is to make the dashboard visible in a shared directory. Visibility drives accountability.
  3. Current. The dashboard should be updated regularly (minimum weekly) for regular review. Reviewing the results together communicates to your team that the numbers are important. This promotes a healthy culture of feedback and improvement as you are regularly discussing the status of the dashboard.

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