From scoreboards to dashboards

Offering higher quality higher ed experiences at a much lower cost can only happen in a Good Place above the line I explored yesterday. Those superior offerings require connected dashboards in use by everyone involved. That involves some deeply disturbing changes in where people are coming from and how they see their worlds. Here's an overview of the challenges in getting from the costly use of scoreboards to the beneficial use of dashboards.

In a Bad Place, there's no way to really keep score. There's tons of self-confirming evidence which avoids rattling people's cages. Everyone in the bad place gets lots of opportunities to say "I knew it" and "here we go again". But there's no indication of unexpected results or accomplishments that could be used to improve the processes. Awareness is limited to the silo, vault or echo chamber. Every attempt to keep score (grades, performance reviews, time budgets, etc) seems like useless paperwork, going through the motions or spinning one's wheels in a rut. There's little interest in getting ways to monitor the metrics and keep score. Most are afraid that the outcome measures will lead to getting unfairly accused, blamed or singled out. The sense of powerlessness that pervades a Bad Place frames outcome indicators as "out of one's personal control". Attitudes of resignation get expressed as "there's nothing you can do about that except learn to live with it". Attempts to upgrade accountability measures receive lots of push back as most in the Bad Place already feel over-pressured, imposed upon and abused.

In a Better Place, there are scoreboards galore. Everyone is keeping track of measures and comparing outcomes. Widespread desires to improve get seemingly well-served by tangible results which get recorded objectively. Everyone is held to the same standards and assessed accurately. It's assumed that any subjectivity would only skew the data, bias the assessments and taint the comparisons. In a Better Place, it becomes desirable to accumulate larger quantities regardless of quality, use or personal significance. Amassing large inventories makes for favorable comparisons, reputations and first impressions.

From a Good Place, it becomes apparent that scoreboards in any Better Place are in big trouble. Scoreboards are disconnected dashboards. Keeping score objectively misses out on essential subjectivity. Normative evaluations suppress the recognition, amplification and celebration of unique traits, outlooks and contributions. Avoiding skewed data results in avoiding diverse frames of reference which could support creativity, innovation and design thinking. Scoreboards get everyone trying harder to play by the same set of rules instead of playing with the rules, questioning the premises and moving the goal posts.

In a Good Place, dashboards monitor much more than measurable metrics. People appear as assemblages of interests to be understood, supported and translated into common interests. Individuals use their own perception filters and frames of reference to give meaning to incidents. Each has a back story which defines much of their outlook and attributions. Conflicts between personal interests and between individuals create opportunities for new understandings, closer relationships and deeper commitments to shared purposes. Activities are monitored for how things are coming along (work processes) how things are shaping up (milestones) how aims are evolving (changing objectives) and how better methods are getting discovered (process improvement). All this yields a more supportive context which nurtures continual exploration, useful mistakes and reflective practices.

In a Great Place, it becomes apparent why it is so difficult to transition from a scoreboards in a Better Place to dashboards in a Good Place. Below the line, everything gets perceived in either/or binary terms. Subjectivity can only be bad when embracing objective measures, evaluations and comparisons. Frames or reference and varied outlooks could only be taken as mere speculation, spin doctoring or distortion of the facts. Individual interests also get disregarded from negative experiences in Bad Places with others' chronic complaining, commiseration and victim stories. Interim processes get overlooked following the inefficiencies, wasted time spent and hand holding of high maintenance individuals in a Bad Place.

From a Great Place, those in other Places can be told to "keep up the good work" and "persist until the disadvantages of your current Place weigh heavily on your efforts". There's no need to push others to change. There's a process to be trusted by giving it time to work through the sticking points and discover the freedoms for oneself. Migrations out of Bad and Better Places follows naturally from the awareness shared from a Great Place.

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