15 Oct THE PILOT
The airport was crowded and there were few seats available at the coffee shop. Heading out of town on business, I was in desperate need of a coffee before boarding the plane for a four hour flight.
Latte in hand, a table full of strangers thoughtfully offered me a seat. After a few pleasantries I found myself in a conversation with one of the gentlemen, who turned out to be a pilot with American Airlines. Of course, I asked him about what it was like to be a pilot and how he got there, and somehow we ended up in a conversation about the “dashboard” found inside the cockpit.
Did you know there are about 100 different dials on the dashboards of the large passenger jets we fly on? I was very curious. How does an individual manage to keep his eyes on over 100 dials at one time? He explained that pilots really pay attention to five main dials, and if anything goes wrong with any of those five dials, the pilot then begins to look at other related dials to see if they can gather additional information to assess the situation.
This got me to thinking about the clients I coach and train in the sales arena, but more importantly about the executives and managers I work with. There are so many important “dials” to pay attention to on a daily basis to not only ensure that a business is running smoothly, but to guarantee a safe arrival at the final destination. And of course we all want to enjoy the flight at the same time.
So the question I have for you today is this – if you cleared your desk (or desk top) of all the things that are currently taking up space and you had to pay attention to only five significantly important “dials”, what would they be?
I suppose this is where the concept of management “dashboards” originated, and while there are a number of software programs that provide this information, you don’t need to be a technical wizard or make a large financial investment to build your own dashboard.
You might want to try this simple exercise to get started. Draw five circles on a sheet of paper and give each of them a name – these are your main dials and represent the key performance indicators for your business. Directly below each circle make a list of the factors that could be explored should you encounter some serious turbulence or organizational problems mid-flight. It might not hurt to have each of your department managers do the same – at minimum, it makes for an interesting conversation at your next management meeting.
What are you doing right now to monitor your business at the speed and altitude required to pilot your business to success?