Dashboards That Really Drive

It's not every day you get to drive a BMW (or maybe it is, you lucky person). You're feeling kind of electric about the road-hugging performance. Those German engineers! Except there's this one nit-picky thing that bothers you: that dashboard. If only you could figure out during the space of this traffic light how to turn the AC higher. Wait, the light just turned green.

Okay, that was my experience with a friend's BMW not too long ago. And it got me thinking about dashboards, those wonderful software tools giving a quick visual of life and death measurements of your association's health. In your car it's supposed to show you especially the gas tank and speed, among other things. And people like me who live in Georgia want easy access to those AC controls.

Dashboard Web-Pages in iMIS

How about your dashboards in iMIS? What are they doing for you right now? Who can see them and who needs to see them? What measurements matter most to you? What are some distinctive things your association measures? What are some outstanding ways to use dashboards to do more?

You can have a dashboard for almost anything. But here's a warning worth noting: innumerable dashboards and crazy-crowded pages of pie charts and line graphs aren't the answer. Charles Duhigg (writing in Smarter, Faster, Better) tells the story of the Cincinnati public schools. They hired a team of software engineers to build uber-cool dashboards for every teacher and classroom. The teachers and administrators had dashboards on top of dashboards. So much information!

Six years later, they polled the schools and found that 90% of the teachers never looked at the dashboards. Not even the ones specifically about their classrooms.

It's kind of like making "mission statements" and "smart goals" and "stretch goals." I know I've been in some, yawn, vision meetings. As we've all discovered, lists and sentences don't change anything.

But consider the converse. What if we have no guiding statement? What if we don't have a direction we imagine we want to go in?

We want a list. We want a statement. We want a set of dashboards showing us something about our association. It's too important to leave the future to "we'll follow our nose."

One school in Cincinnati took that to heart, Duhigg reports. It wasn't so much the computer dashboards that did it for them. In fact, they decided to use index cards as their medium. Small. Can't hold much. They needed simple. Teachers were forced to get together and record and discuss data. What was bringing success in some classrooms? What ideas were people trying? What could teachers learn from each other? This simple plan turned the whole school around.

Could your dashboards in iMIS do that? You bet. In part 2, we'll take a look at some ideas.

I am sure, by the way, there is nothing wrong with BMW dashboards and it is just that I have driven a Honda for so long . . .

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501CiO Consulting, LLC, specializes in getting small and mid-sized associations affordably into the Cloud version of iMIS. We build award-winning websites for associations. We setup, we train, we implement. Most of all we serve the association industry proudly.

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