What is a scoreboard?
How exciting would your local football game be without a scoreboard? How many spectators would come to the game if no-one knew who was winning or losing? When you’re watching your favourite game, when does your adrenaline kick in? It’s when the scoreboard shows the teams’ scores are close. Every spectator and fan has their eye on the scoreboard.
When you set up goals in your business, you must have a way to monitor, measure, and manage goals to know if you're winning or losing. We call these measurements success factors. You log your success factors on scoreboards.
In business, scoreboards provide visibility over the measures used to determine a company’s, department’s, or an individual’s success. Unfortunately, business scoreboards are often overcomplicated and have so many datapoints they start to look like a Christmas tree. They end up doing nothing more than reminding you of what time of the year it is.
Why do we need scoreboards and how do they help us achieve our goals?
Keeping score gives people the critical feedback they need to make the right adjustments and improve performance. Scoreboards bring attention and focus to what is most important.
Scoreboards are as essential in business as they are in any sport, because they reflect success or failure. They provide the visibility to know if you’re on target or if you’ve gone off track to achieving your goals. Scoreboards get people engaged and they are the necessary ingredient in holding people accountable. They provide the visibility for what needs to be improved and help you know what you don’t know.
The classic business scoreboard
For example, many high-performing sales teams have a big scoreboard at the front of their sales office. It shows everyone’s quota and how many sales they’ve closed towards their goal. The sales scoreboard helps motivate the team in several ways:
- It brings out the competitive spirit within the sales team which leads to more sales.
- It’s a consistent reminder about how every person and the overall team is tracking against their goals.
- It shows who needs help.
- It shows who is exceeding goals and can give valuable insight to the rest of the team.
- It aligns everyone in the organisation, both inside and outside the sales department, against a strategic goal for the business – bringing in revenue.
- It provides milestones for celebrations.
- It fosters the positive anticipation that comes when a team is pulling together to meet common goals.
What does a good scoreboard look like?
The first rule of any scoreboard is to keep it simple. Anyone looking at your scoreboard, regardless of their understanding of the business or what’s being measured, must be able to tell at a glance if you are winning or losing. I recommend a simple line chart that shows a target line and an actual line.
Even if you don’t know what measure you are looking at, with one target line and one actual line you can instantly tell if you’re achieving your goal. This one visual leads you to the next action: a) You either provide positive recognition for doing a great job, or b) ask the question about what needs to improve. Good leaders take one additional step and c) ask how they can help.
How to get started with scoreboards
Businesses must first identify the success factors they want to measure. In the sales office example, it’s new business. If you’re selling shoes, then one of your success factors must be the number of pairs of shoes sold. For most businesses, the goal is to make a profit. Profit could be another measure. One final example might be customer satisfaction. If you want to keep your customers happy, measuring and monitoring your customer satisfaction levels could be tracked on a scoreboard.
It’s better to have multiple scoreboards than to put all your success factors on one. You don’t want to start a Christmas tree.
Common business wisdom says if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. My takeaway tip is to:
- Identify what factors determine the success of your business.
- Ensure each of these measures has a chart that includes a target line and an actual line.
- Put these charts on a simple dashboard where anyone can tell if you are winning or losing the game.
This easy system provides you with the visibility you need to proactively work towards achieving your mission, vision, and goals. If you’re new to scoreboards, it could very well show you what you don’t know about your business. Trust me; that’s a good thing.