The Dashboard Effect is a ground-breaking book about how companies are using data to move to the forefront of their industries. Some call it the Fifth Industrial Revolution. Others call it Digital Transformation. We at Blue Margin simply call it The Dashboard Effect. It means automating the process of alignment and accountability throughout an organization. The result is a transformation to a healthier culture, faster growth, and higher profits. 

Chapter 3 of the book examines institutional bias and how it can stifle progress. 

In the drive for growth and profitability, executives must balance strategic initiatives with day-to-day operations. There is only so much time to improve the plane while you’re busy flying it. Therefore, executives need a good methodology to assess which initiatives and strategies should make the cut.  

How do you as a business leader 1) choose which initiatives you’d like to implement in your organization and 2) measure the success of these efforts? 

Continue reading to learn more. 

How to Develop New Initiatives That Yield Measurable Results

Trust Empirical Data -- Not Your Gut

Your gut may play a valuable role in certain aspects of your business, but determining which initiatives are worthy of your company’s time, money, and resources is not one of them. 

We are all guilty of trusting intuition when it comes to making major decisions. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that there are currently several assumptions or habits so deeply ingrained in your company’s workflows or culture that you’ve inadvertently mistaken them for empirical truths. 

This phenomenon is famously addressed in the book Moneyball in which Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team, took an unconventional approach to select his players. 

Against the status quo, Beane bypassed players with more traditional and subjective markers of success in favor of those who held characteristics which have provided statistically better results. While his methods were widely criticized at first, his reliance on empirical data rather than gut instinct led the Oakland A’s to an unprecedented winning streak in 2002. 

Data, unlike intuition, can be measured and examined free of manipulation or bias. This simple shift in perspective can help you make informed decisions which yield the results you need without investing additional time and resources into the less than effective guess-and-check method. 

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Confront Individual and Organizational Bias

Bias is particularly harmful to new business initiatives because we are so often blind to it. 

Biases can not only cloud the judgement of key individuals or executives – they can be adopted by entire organizations. 

Some of the most common workplace biases affecting organizations include: 

  • First-impression bias
  • Group-think bias
  • Justification bias
  • Ostrich bias
  • Proximity bias

It is not a question of whether we have experienced bias -- it’s a question of how often. 

Let’s use first-impression bias as an example. 

First-impression bias describes a baseless significance or loyalty we attribute to the first information we receive on a topic. The bias shapes our faith in or understanding of any further research we conduct, which can persuade us to invest countless hours and dollars into what we perceive to be the best course of action when it may just be the first course of action we were exposed to. 

Adam Grant, a renowned organizational psychologist, specializes in exposing bias in the workplace. 

Grant states, “It’s not just individuals who have bad bias habits. Organizations have them too...They’re often passed on as norms or traditions. But if we can change organizational systems...then we can change organizational habits.”

Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, Senior Associate Dean of Executive MBA Programs at Duke University echoes Grant on the importance of addressing bias in the workplace. 

“It has to be institutionalized, so first you start by educating. Then you start to collect data, start analyzing that data, see where in the structure of your organization there might be systemic biases that can creep in, then [ask] how can we address these?” 

How can we avoid the costly pitfalls of building our initiatives on a foundation of bias? 

The answer is data.

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Only Invest in Ideas Worth Measuring

New initiatives require time to develop, launch, and integrate into the company workflow and culture. Rather than throwing money and time (equally valuable) at initiatives with little hope of providing measurable change, we at Blue Margin: 

  1. Measure everything we do, and
  2. Only do things that are worth measuring. 

This policy provides a filter to protect us from investing in marginal processes or initiatives, channeling our efforts toward highest value projects and minimizing the time and energy required by the traditional guess-and-check method. 

Also, unlike conventional methods, we work hard to ensure every member of the Blue Margin team has direct and easy access to the metrics measuring our progress towards success. 

As you might have guessed, we accomplish this with dashboards

Similar to the head-up displays found in newer cars which project vital information such as speed, alerts, and navigation on the windshield directly in your line of sight, we recommend giving prominence to automated dashboards on your company intranet, on TVs throughout the office, via automated email alerts, etc. This will allow your team to see in a single glance what their goal is, how they stand against that goal, and how much time they have to reach it. 

This practice is what we call The Dashboard Effect and has proven effective not only in our own business but in the many organizations we serve. 

Experience the Dashboard Effect Today

Blue Margin has partnered with hundreds of organizations who have chosen to take aggressive action against the costly repercussions of decisions based on bias and intuition. If you would like to learn more about The Dashboard Effect or discuss how our services could increase your organization’s profits or efficiency, check out our available case studies or contact a member of our team today.

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Amanda Doherty

Written by Amanda Doherty