The Power of the Visible Dashboard

A Reminder that what you Measure Moves…

My friend Kevin Van Harn emailed me the other day with some exciting news—his student-run business dashboard was up and visible and large. While this was exciting in and of itself, I was more intrigued with his following comment: “the dashboard has prompted great conversation from students not enrolled in entrepreneurship.”

Kevin is the Director of Business and Entrepreneurship at Grand Rapids Christian High School, and we began working together after he attended our CHCA Entrepreneurship Symposium last year—in a short time, he and his students launched their first business, and they are already putting plans in place to grow the program next year. This involves getting kids excited, and it turns out, a dashboard is helping do just that.

A dashboard is a simple, straightforward concept borrowed from EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) that involves determining a few key metrics that, if regularly tracked, will give a snapshot of the health of the business. For a student-run business in a school, the dashboard can be a huge benefit because it helps orient the students around the strategic priorities.

The students at Grand Rapids Christian decided they would track weekly revenue, weekly items sold, total revenue, and total items sold—all to direct their focus toward the primary growth of the business. And in just a handful of months that they’ve been open, they’ve been progressing nicely toward their goals.

A few takeaways from this experience are as follows:

  • Have the students involved in determining what goes on the dashboard.

  • Make the dashboard visible and explain it to students not in the program to generate future interest.

  • Update the dashboard regularly to clarify current state and motivate the progress toward future goals.

A dashboard like this can work for any class at any grade level—its primary function is to let us know where we are now, so we know how far we are from where we want to be. Connect this to meaningful goal setting, and now the dashboard can dramatically impact our own personal lives.

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