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No one looks at our dashboard
No one cares about your dashboard, and what to do about it.
PM: “No one looks at our dashboard.”
In my head: “And who’s fault is that?”
I recently had a meeting with a PM that started with this interaction. I empathize with the PM though, because I've made the same mistake in my career.
The starting assumption with dashboards should be: no one else cares. I don't mean that in a negative way; it's just that people are busy. In a perfect world, every cross-functional partner would pull up your team dashboard and spend 30 minutes digging into it over their morning coffee. Sorry friend, that world doesn't exist.
So if you want people to care, you need to give them a reason to care. Or tell a story about it. Or bring the dashboard to them. Let's take each one:
Tell a story about it. Use your own data-diving to tell a clear story, or at least surface interesting questions from the data. Good stories start with unexpected conclusions, insightful questions, or anecdotes supported with data.
Bring the dashboard to them. One of the best tricks I've learned from Matt Hudson (Coda's CFO) is to craft an intentional daily or weekly data email. I use this with my team to send a weekly email recapping progress on certain initiatives. The data is automatically updated from a couple sources, and the email is sent on a schedule that I chose. Adil, one of our awesome PMs who help me set it up made a template that you can use.
Create a forcing function. Perhaps the most obvious way to get people to care about key metrics is to create a forcing function, like a metrics review. In Coda’s case, we have several forums to review metrics. The most interesting is likely board meetings where the whole company is invited. These serve as a quarterly forcing function to review key company metrics together. We also have a metrics review meeting modeled after a meeting called YT Stats we did back at YouTube that Shishir wrote about.
As a PM, if people don't care about your team's metrics — it's not their fault, it's yours. So treat it as an opportunity to direct people's attention to what's most important. It's another example of why it's important to create systems.