Avoiding Dash-Boredom: Motivational Metrics

"The Pivot", Blog of Pivot Point Analytics. Sept, 2020. By Thad Wengert

We just saw how B2CM, a manufacturer / distributor, set a strategic challenge for their team, one which was based on the strong and weak aspects of their customer base’s behavior.

Now the pivot: motivating the team to take risks and try new approaches.

Empty sayings like “Change is hard” and “People resist change” are only true when there’s no clear strategy direction, when incentives don’t change, and when leadership doesn’t inspire. To the contrary, in most companies, people are itching to change. Employee surveys even mistakenly register this as dis-satisfaction

Here’s now to turn that bottled up energy into action.

To pivot in terms of mindset, get a design thinking / human centered design expert. We work with Faster Glass. Their workshops - short or long - are way more than a feel-good-but-do-nothing session. They bring your team to solve problems and take away action plans in an amazingly short, intense session.

To sustain those ideas, the metrics you set out (Key Performance Indicators at the top level and down to individual performance plans) must motivate or even obligate change. Here are some keys to crafting KPIs that obligate change

  1. Highest level financial metrics, like revenue, sales, or profit are too general. They don’t point to HOW to solve the problems that analysis identified. Must point to HOW yet without being too prescriptive to kill creativity. So it’s the components of those top level financial metrics.

  2. Crafted to fit the specifics of the problem we face. For example,

    1. We don’t have “% retained” because we know that retention depends on depth of categories and how quickly we engage that growth, so we use those more specific metrics.

    2. We know that the 45-day window is crucial, so instead of “average # of orders” we sharpen the metric to get a 2nd order in 45 days.

  3. Granular enough to change every review. There are no slow-moving global averages such as “average order value” or “orders per customer”, because flat-ish lines are boring and don’t reflect recent successes or failures. Rather, metrics are broken down by cohort or category.

  4. Comprehensive and structured to the strategy. You should be able to speak the whole dashboard in a few sentences. And you should see no gaps in the logic; if you accomplish these, the results MUST follow. Here’s how our strategy and dashboard can be written, with the { metrics in brackets }

“To improve our revenue and profitability, we need to

  1. attract the “right” customers {# New Households} - with higher potential lifetime value. Some seasons bring more valuable customers, so we “double down” with higher volume and higher allowable spend {CPA by month}. We need to attract more with the markers of high potential {% from -X- source, loyalty program activation, and buyers of categories A,B, and C}.

  2. Then we need to engage them onto a growth path quickly. That means getting more categories on the first order {AOV of 1st order}, and mining our existing customer base for {repeat customers}. Because customers with deeper relationships have “momentum” and stay longer, we need to get them to try {3 categories} within {45 days}.

  3. To be sure we’re on track, there is a goal for cumulative revenue {LTV to date} for each monthly cohort.”


Presentation is also important. Progress and sticking points should be clear in 60 to 90 seconds.

  • One page

  • 10 to 15 metrics

  • Simple graphs and minimal decorations. If graphs have multiple dimensions and need a verbal explanation, then they need more work to get down to making a clear point.

  • No long time trends. These metrics include a few past months to see trends and the outcome of recent efforts. But last year's results, for example, are out of our control so have no place here except maybe as part of setting the targets.

  • Accessible on any device

  • Additional details, such as marketing campaign performance or inventory efficiency, go on pages for specific users. They do not belong here unless they are crucial to the strategy.

These principles will get you to a dashboard that can be reviewed quickly, with discussion and debate focused on solving pieces of the strategic challenge. That will energize your business reviews. No more Dash-Boredom.