Geckoboard methodology

Whatever your company is working towards, TV dashboards can turbocharge your progress. By surfacing real-time information, they align everyone around your goals and help your team perform at their best.

To help you get the most from TV dashboards, and achieve your goals faster, we’ve created the Geckoboard methodology. It’s a step-by-step guide for founders and business leaders showing you how to achieve goals with TV dashboards.

When employees aren’t aligned around company goals, productivity suffers.

Time is wasted on things that don’t contribute to the company’s long-term goals. Work becomes inefficient as teams diverge. People become demotivated as they lose sight of what they’re working towards. And it’s hard to rally everyone around when changes need to be made.

If you’re a fast-growing company that needs to hit ambitious goals predictably, it’s crucial to keep everyone productive and moving in the same direction.

To achieve this, you need to break big, strategic company goals into smaller objectives and initiatives. Your team can then contribute to these, and use them to keep track of how well they’re doing. Breaking goals down also helps to:

Make big goals feel less daunting

Long-term strategic goals can feel a little scary and abstract. Splitting them into smaller, more immediate objectives makes them more tangible and achievable, and helps teams feel more confident about their work.

Create ‘line of sight’

Studies [1] [2] show that the easier it is for employees to see the relationship between their efforts and their targets, the more motivated they become.

Create ‘personalized’ feedback loops

Breaking down a larger goal allows people to focus on what’s relevant to them instead of being distracted by stuff that other teams have influenced.

Show results faster

Results can be seen (and acted on) quickly, providing immediate feedback that can trigger further actions.

Once you have your long-term strategic goals and short-term objectives, the next challenge is communicating these to the whole company.

If you mention the vision to anyone on your team, they’ll sort of remember but they’re not thinking about it all day long like you are. They’re thinking about that Javascript bug or whatever it might be. So you have to reiterate this vision to them over and over and over again.

This is where TV dashboards play a crucial role: communicating your goals and keeping them front of mind for everyone. But, for TV dashboards to work effectively, you need to lay the foundations and follow these steps:

A strategic goal is something aspirational you’d like to achieve as a team in the medium to long term. It’s typically set for a year or more; it’s big and inspiring for teams, and it focuses effort on stuff that will benefit the company.

Deciding on a strategic goal tends to need some deep thinking from a leadership team. It will take into account the wider company strategy, current market conditions, recent performance, company growth, deep data analysis, and experience of what’s worked in the past.

Whether you’re defining goals for your whole company or just your team, there are several benefits of having clear goals:

  • Better understanding in your team about the direction of the company
  • Improved productivity as everyone focuses on the right things
  • Greater motivation as employees feel part of a shared mission

Examples of strategic company goals:

  • Become the market leader
  • Double revenue
  • Achieve $1 million in monthly recurring revenue
  • Get 1 million users
  • Increase market share by 10%

Goal-setting resources:

  • [Book] Good Strategy/Bad Strategy — Richard Rumelt explains how to channel energy and resources into one, or very few, key objectives that will lead to “a cascade of favorable outcomes”
  • Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) — an introduction to BHAGs which are used by the likes of Google and Tesla to inspire teams and achieve impressive results
  • [Book] Radical Focus — Christina Wodtke explains how to achieve your goals with Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) by focusing, planning, and learning
  • The Golden Circle: — a summary of Simon Sinek’s approach to goals which encourages businesses to start with the ‘why’

Your strategic company goal sets the destination you want to get to, but it's usually too high level for teams to act on.

So, the next step is to break it into smaller, more immediate objectives that individual teams can influence. And each team needs their own KPI goals and supporting metrics.

While your bigger company goal may only be updated yearly, your team objectives are usually set quarterly or more frequently. This gives your team a chance to reflect on what’s working (or not working), and change tack if needed.

Strategic goal Immediate goal 1 Immediate goal 2
Double Revenue by the end of the year Generate 3,000 sales leads by July 1st Improve SQL-to-Win conversion rate to 20%
Achieve $1 million in Monthly Recurring Revenue Improve Average Revenue Per User to $100 by April 1st Reduce Churn to 3%
Achieve best-in-class service Improve 30 day CSAT scores to 90% Reduce First Reply Time to 2 hours

As for what makes a good goal, the SMART goal framework is a great place to start:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress
  • Assignable – specify who will do it
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved

The concept of S.M.A.R.T. goals was coined by George T. Doran in 1981, in a surprisingly short article called: ‘There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives.’ It’s still hugely popular today, but it’s been expanded upon a lot.

However, the SMART framework doesn’t cover everything, and there’s a lot more to consider if you want your goals to be useful for your team. That’s why we’ve created the SMART ASSES checklist (yes, you read that right!) which has five extra criteria that are crucial for effective goals:

Teams and individuals should understand your daily activity metrics and that what you do individually connects to the greater whole. Everyone wants that, especially when you’re at a small company. Being able to see the direct impact of your work on the company is truly motivating and creates a level of accountability for the business’ success at an individual level.

The main job of a TV dashboard is to make key goals and metrics visible and easy to understand. This helps teams stay aligned around their goals, and achieve the objectives they’ve set out at the beginning of a business cycle.

A cluttered dashboard with irrelevant information is unlikely to have this effect. So, it pays to make the best use of the space and avoid adding anything that isn’t related to your objectives. Clarity is key.

Above all, your dashboards should be focused around what you want to achieve. Consider dividing dashboards up so each one relates to the specific goals, and the key and supporting metrics for individual initiatives.

Dashboard design tips

  • Be clear about what you’re trying to achieve – your board’s purpose will inform its design
  • Only include what’s important – everything should support your board’s intent
  • Use size and position to show hierarchy – make it clear to the viewer what’s most important
  • Give your numbers context – help your viewers know if a number’s good or bad
  • Group your related metrics – make your metrics easy to find
  • Be consistent – using the same visualizations and layouts makes comparing easier
  • Use clear labels your audience will understand – keep them short and self explanatory
  • Round your numbers – too much detail could make minor changes seem major
  • Keep evolving your dashboards – check that your dashboard is encouraging the right behaviour

Our dashboards are visible to the relevant people so everyone can see the data at a comfortable glance from their seat. The dev team even have two mirroring screens displaying the same KPIs so nobody has to turn around to see their data dashboard.

Once your TV dashboards are up and running around the office, there are simple things you can do to maximize their impact:

Weave them into regular team catch-ups

Consider holding daily standups or weekly catch-ups next to your TV dashboard. This way, important numbers will be visible for your team as you talk through your current streams of work.

Get feedback

Regularly ask teams if the information on their dashboards still feels actionable and relevant, and don’t be afraid to swap out metrics that aren’t useful. This is all part of the process of fine-tuning your dashboard and learning what’s working or not working.

Reassess your objectives and key results over time

Defining your objectives and key results, and giving targets to certain metrics, is as much of an art as a science. Inevitably there’ll be times when you’ve aimed too high or too low. Staying aware of this will allow you to make adjustments to targets where needed, and get a heads-up if things are going off-piste.

Encourage conversations

When key data is visible and accessible on a TV dashboard, it can trigger better and deeper conversations about the business. And this helps your team connect with the numbers and reinforce what’s important.

Take the opportunity to have an informal discussion with your team when:

  • A key result has been achieved
  • A metric is overperforming
  • A metric is underperforming
  • A metric hasn’t done anything despite your team’s best efforts
  • A trend has changed
  • A metric has dipped or spiked
  • Someone in the team has performed particularly well

TV dashboards are a powerful tool to help teams understand what’s moving the needle. If you’ve set up your dashboard to reflect your key strategic goals, and broken these down into clear metrics and KPIs that help track progress against your initiatives, you’ll be able to spot how well the team’s efforts are contributing to the goals on an ongoing, if not daily, basis.

This helps quickly recalibrate efforts if you see major changes in the trends in your metrics, but is also useful on a longer-term basis in terms of improving your objective-setting process for the next stage or cycle.

To get the most benefits, continue evolving your dashboards as you learn. At the very minimum, make sure your dashboards are still relevant to your current objectives. You may also want to tweak your dashboards (or create new ones) when:

  • You’ve hired someone new
  • The team is easily achieving key results or struggling to move a number
  • You’ve started a new campaign or project
  • It’s the run-up to a new season and your business is seasonal

Dashboard iteration is a process that keeps on going forever. When we were five people and then 20 and now 51, the metrics had to change because the whole business is different. The same metrics we used five years ago or two years ago or a year ago don’t necessarily work today. Your best past business practices can become your worst business practices in the future.

Your team will quickly learn which metrics are useful and not so useful. Embrace their feedback and think of your TV dashboards as fluid rather than fixed.

At the end of a business cycle, reflect on what’s worked and what hasn’t. Review which initiatives actually had an impact, and if you need more detail then dig into relevant data using other analytics or business intelligence tools.

When it comes to the next business cycle, you’ll have a much better understanding of the objectives, key results, and metrics that will move your team closer to the ultimate goal.

Ready to start experiencing the power of TV dashboards for your team? Build your own in no time.