Vital Strategy Question 2: What is the Measurement of Success?

How the (M)OST Model informs dashboard design

If you don’t know the objectives of your business, how do you know what to put on your dashboards? See examples of objectives, strategies, and tactics and their influence on the dashboarding process.

Hi, this is Ryan with Playfair Data TV. And in this video, I’m going to be discussing my second of two, what I call vital questions. My first vital question here on the Strategy track was, who is the audience? That kind of trumps everything else. But to be honest, I’m frankly surprised at how often the second vital question is overlooked, which is, what is the measurement of success. If you don’t know how you’re being measured or what you’re trying to achieve in the business, how do you know what to even look for?

If it helps you wrap your head around this, I think of the measure of success as the objectives. And I learned strategy using the OST model. OST stands for Objectives, which is what we’re starting with. That’s what I consider the measurement of success. Then you’ve got Strategies that ladder up to those objectives. Strategies are the general approaches that you’re taking and implementing in order to achieve your objectives. Then the T stands for Tactics. These ladder up to your strategies. These are specific actions that you’re taking in the business to help achieve your strategies which in turn help you achieve your objectives.

You might have also heard this as the MOST model. Some companies include the Mission statement, which would go actually above objectives. But because mission statements are pretty much set in stone, you pretty much set those when you start a new business, and because they don’t change very often, I don’t tend to focus on those. I tend to focus on objectives, or another word for that my opinion, is the measurement of success.

To help you create a measurement of success, I recommend you use smart goals. And in fact, that’s what objectives are. A lot of people consider objectives to be goals with the SMART criteria applied to them.

If you’re not familiar with this criteria, it’s another acronym. The S stands for Specific. M stands for Measurable. A stands for Attainable. R stands for Relevant. And T stands for Time limited.

These can pretty much be infinite. These are a case by case basis that you will have to work out in your own business. But just to throw out an example on how I might take this SMART goal, or objective, or measurement of success– again, this is all kind of synonymous with each other. But this is an example of a SMART goal.

Let’s improve our customer satisfaction by some percentage by the end of quarter 3. If this were my objective in the business, it would lead to some obvious things that I need to track. First of all, how many of our customers are satisfied. How many of our customers were satisfied before the implementation of some tactic. That’s how we’re going to know what kind of lift we’re achieving by executing our tactics.

And also, how much time has passed, or how close are we to the end of quarter 3. Because if this is a SMART goal, it’s limited by time. We need to put some parameters around it to call this a success.

But the reason this is so important for me to know– first of all, it really helps me learn a new business. I’m a consultant, so it helps me to get into a new engagement, and ask people, what are we trying to achieve. It’s a really interesting exercise because it helps me see, first of all, if the stakeholders are aligned, if we’re all kind of pulling in the same direction.

It also is going to help inform what’s being tracked on my dashboard. I might try to pose this objective at the very top of the dashboard. And then every single component in my dashboard is going to ladder up to answering how well we’re doing to achieve this objective. I might kind of break this down into different tactics, or I might take those three KPIs I just mentioned– how many people are satisfied, how many people were satisfied, how much time we have left.

But those are going to be the focus of the dashboard. It’s going to help this become much more actionable and relevant for our business.

And I actually want you to beware because this stuff is very powerful. Once you lay out these objectives, this is how people are going to measure their success. So you want to make sure you put a lot of thought into this upfront. You don’t want to have competing objectives. We don’t want to be cannibalizing the business. We don’t want to be trying to improve customer satisfaction if it’s hurting some other area of the business.

So just be aware of that. But this is my second of two vital questions. I love to know this going into any engagement because this is going to very much inform what my dashboard product ends up looking like in Tableau.

This has been Ryan with Playfair Data TV – thanks for watching!