Sleek, Flashy & Worthless: Demand More from Dashboards

By Cammy Elquist LoRé

Sleek, Flashy & Worthless: Demand More from Dashboards

When on a journey, getting from ‘here’ to ‘there’ requires orientation. In our work, we interact with many organizations that also want to become more data-centric to guide better decisions, better performance and a stronger market presence.

We’ve seen our share of dashboards developed with a lot of pizazz, yet there’s often limited practicality about how information is delivered to actually move the organization forward. While most dashboards have a “wow factor” when compared to the drudgery of pouring over MS Excel spreadsheets, great dashboards must deliver more than a flashy appearance and some vanity metrics. Actionable measurements that matter need to be visible at both the organizational and individual levels.

For strategic management, a great dashboard goes even further – essentially animating the properties of a Strategy Map into motion. With every task and goal completed, this motion becomes more kinetic, providing inspiration towards performance and fulfillment of more and more complex goals and objectives.

How can you ensure your strategy dashboard displays what matters most and injects energy into your plan? Here is a baseline checklist for a great strategy performance management tool:

  • Develop dashboard intelligence to be in lockstep with the organizational strategy and clearly reporting at all levels including organization-wide objectives, department goals and individual action items.
  • Ensure the data can be filtered and sorted (i.e. by owner, status or deadline). If you have the ability to create custom views, even better.
  • Bring alignment to how information ties together. This means you know what tasks are related to what goal; what goal is related to which objective; where successes are happening; and where attention is needed.
  • Program the data to flow into displays that can dynamically communicate what is changing. (For most organizations, data is refreshed at LEAST once per month.)

Paying attention to these basic functionalities is important to make your dashboard a transparent window of accountability for strategy performance and achievement. With this come tangible benefits via more effective communication, collaboration and engagement.

What really makes a strategy dashboard different from other metric reporting systems is that it aligns everyone’s goals to a common outcome. This keeps in perspective the horizon (otherwise known as your organization’s vision), no matter how large it may loom in the distance.

Seeing progress dynamically delivered over time begins to add more definition and color to this horizon as we get closer and closer to it. This is what truly makes effectively designed dashboards exciting to use, which is way beyond the simple joy of escaping from an excel spreadsheet.


What tools do you have to quickly ‘check in’ to your strategic plan?

Cammy Elquist LoRé

- Cammy Elquist LoRé is the Director of Project Communication for OnStrategy. She can be reached @cammyelquist on Twitter or



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