Checking the health of your business should be as easy as glancing at your speedometer

I’ve been describing myself a lot lately as a “recovering serial entrepreneur.” The biggest partner in this particular journey has been a guy by the name of Evan Hill. Evan and I have worked together at more startups and consulting jobs than can be counted on the fingers of a bad woodshop teacher, and we’ve become the best of friends in the process. (I also married his sister along the way, but that’s another story.)

Evan just posted an article about what he’s calling “Business Dashboards.”
<blockquote>Just like its automobile namesake, a business dashboard is a series of easily understood gauges that allow the operator to keep tabs on what is going on beneath the hood, without resorting to complex and time consuming diagnostics. Just like an automobile engine, your business has a lot of little interrelated processes that all contribute to the healthy function of the overall machine.</blockquote>
He goes on to describe the ways in which this idea can be applied to businesses of all sizes.

People who are excited about this kind of thing should check out Bill Gates’ last book, Business @ The Speed of Thought. Targeted at executives of medium to large companies, it is an exhaustive look at exactly what Evan is talking about… but for large companies. I think that smaller companies should start applying these principles as well.

So one question that jumps out at me: how simple should a dashboard like this be? Well, my tendency is to draw from the model of the business dashboard’s automotive namesake. A picture is worth a thousand words…



Ambient Devices sells this unit for $150. It can give you an elegantly analog readout of the numbers that drive your life and your business. How many emails sitting in your inbox? What’s the current stock price? How many widgets did you sell this week? Just what a busy executive needs.

Excellent. Powerful stuff.

What I love about this device is the simplicity– you can’t drill down for more information, it just provides the information you need at a glance.