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Letter to the CEO: Stop Refreshing Dashboards 100x An Hour
Business Observability

Letter to the CEO: Stop Refreshing Dashboards 100x An Hour

Many team members spend a large part of their day looking at dashboards instead of taking action and executing to meet their goals. Instead of hunting for insights, let business observability find the most important information and surface it to the relevant people. Especially you, CEO ... I see you refreshing that dashboard 100x an hour.

Britton Stamper
October 24, 2022

The hardest habit to break with a reactionary approach data (view dashboard, see insight, take action) is that people constantly refresh dashboards with nothing but hopes and dreams. Organizations can develop a paranoia that if someone isn’t watching the dashboard, they’ll miss the critical insight that could make or break their business. In some cases, the worst offenders are all the way at the top with the CEO more focused on looking at the numbers than on helping their teams execute.

It’s common for organizations to have a single dashboard that’s supposed to hold all the metrics and help people stay up to date with what’s happening in the business. We agree with this concept and have created a metrics dashboard based on the metrics defined in the source of truth and have created reporting feature to share the metric changes. However, the constant focus on refreshing dashboards, even when the metrics are not likely to have changed and definitely are not likely to have meaningfully changed is a problem. People can waste hours of their day staring at dashboards, hoping to find the answer to their problems.

Realistic depiction of CEOs at many companies

How to Correct Habitual Refresh Tendencies

Taking advice from books like Atomic Habits and the Power of Habit, there’s a clear way to help teams shift the way they interact with metrics from a reactive to proactive. To do so, we need to introduce new cues that can start the target behavior, new routines when the teams need to take action with data and new rewards so that the habit can shift towards healthier, more effective uses of time.

Source: The Power of Habit

New Habit Cues

To help teams know when important insights are coming from their data that they should take action on, consider implementing recurring reports and programmatic insight generation tools such as business observability so that teams know a robust system is monitoring their metric automatically. These triggers can happen when new data is available, such as being tied to the end of the data modeling process like a dbt Cloud job. This allows teams to feel confident that when new data is available for review, they’ve got tools that will alert them if anything needs their attention. This shift can definitely take the longest to make but it will make teams much more efficient with their time.

New Habit Routines

Creating a single new routine is probably not possible, however there are a few that we recommend with teams.

  • Direct users to the self-serve data tools that are available for them to use to follow-up on data insights, such as a Business Intelligence tool or a useful dataset that can be imported in a spreadsheet for further analysis.
  • Create a clear workflow when insights require collaboration across teams, such as between a business team and a data team. The business team can provide context that the data team can use to better investigate the data using their more complicated toolset. Then the data team can report back their findings for review and go through a few cycles with the business team. We recommend an Insight → Document → Resolution workflow in Google Docs, Notion or whatever document tool you use.

New Habit Rewards

This is very important to help migrate teams over to the new process: there has to be tangible rewards that teams can point to so they feel confident in the new habit. For businesses who are using data, this can take the forms of tangible, attributable improvements in business metrics or in the form of clear insight to action logs that come from strong documentation. Push.ai shares the logs of all the insights generated and sent to teams so that the data team has a clear place they can point people to.

More Execution, Less Monitoring

By changing people’s habits, everyone gets more time back in their day to focus on executions. Data teams can work across a much broader set of stakeholders and go deeper on the modeling and analyses they’re responsible for. Business teams are also able to execute with the peace of mind that when something critical appears in their data, they’ll be notified and provided the direction to act on it. This will allow everyone to better accomplish their goals and achieve more reliable business results!

Britton Stamper

Britton is the COO of Push.ai and oversees Marketing, Sales and Customer Success. He's been a passionate builder, analyst and designer who loves all things data products and growth. You can find him reading books at a coffee shop or finding winning strategies in board games and board rooms.

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