If you’re planning a success tracking program then consider these books for your holiday reading list:
These two books are the critical piece of the success tracking puzzle – Scorekeeping for success focuses on the need for tracking to be for the benefit of the player not just the manager, while Drive highlights the need to avoid if-then rewards in the success tracking program.
These books provide a wider background to the design components of a good success tracking program – scorekeeping positively, using data storytelling, gamification and dashboards well.
There are two simple yet powerful questions that managers of all kinds must ask themselves if they want to succeed:
What does success look like?
How will I track my progress to achieving it?
These two questions are easy to ask, yet the answers may take time to form.
Ideally you are looking for a metric or a series of metrics that reflect your definition of success. Then you need a way of tracking progress in a low hassle way – for example by automatically gathering the data for the metrics, calculating them and outputting the results in a convenient way, i.e. as a weekly email.
When you track success it’s not enough just to watch the data itself in a pretty line graph – that’s like watching the waves on the ocean: it may be comforting but it doesn’t get you anywhere.
To succeed, you need to score yourself.
You need to create a score that tracks against a target of some kind – for example percentage of quota achieved, rank versus your competitors and so on.
If you’re success tracking for your team, for example tracking your Facebook page against your competitors, then there’s no need for privacy controls – you are both the player and the manager.
However if it’s your team who are success tracking then you are the manager and they are the players.
As a success tracking manager you need to lay aside your old dogma of command and control and instead use coaching and calculation to influence your staff behaviour.
As a coach you are as interested in your player’s development, as you are in the success of the team – they go hand in hand: team success and player success. You cannot have one without the other.
As a calculator your job is to create and maintain a score algorithm that blends both sets of objectives. The score algorithm, it’s ranking rules, metrics and weightings, now become your management lever instead of traditional sticks and carrots.
On the player side we know from Deci and Ryan’s research that high performance comes in a context where they feel in control of their circumstances. In most cases that means having some power over how you are measured.
Contexts supportive of autonomy, competence, and relatedness were found to foster greater internalization and integration than contexts that thwart satisfaction of these needs. This latter finding, we argue, is of great significance for individuals who wish to motivate others in a way that engenders commitment, effort, and high-quality performance. – Deci and Ryan (2000)
A good success tracking system should therefore offer players a number of abilities that allow them to control and manipulate the scoring system, without compromising the overall goals of the program for the manager.
Examples of this might include:
a granular level of privacy over how they are represented on any leaderboard (whether shown as anonymous or identified)
control over their inclusion in the program (the ability to opt-in to receiving a score without appearing on the leaderboard, the ability to opt-out entirely, the right to erasure)
communications forums such as a scoring committee or leadership council with the ability to represent the views of players
transparency over how the score algorithm works (the ability to reverse engineer so you can see how you got your score)
control over how your score and rank is displayed on your social profile (the ability to choose to highlight your best score ever versus your latest score for example)
Now, not all success tracking programs will be able to offer players all the possible controls. There are some contexts – for example a sales leaderboard at work – where opt-out is not viable – however we believe that by maximising the controls available to the player, a manager can, to paraphrase Deci and Ryan, provide a context that supports autonomy and that leads to greater buy-in and ultimately higher performance.
We might characterise it as “Give more to Get more“.
When you look at team statistics on an excel spreadsheet and find yourself at the bottom it can be very tempting to reorder the spreadsheet on a favourable metric which puts you near the top.
This ability for players to reorder the leaderboard by any metric is not used in a success tracking program because it allows multiple worldviews. In a peer success tracking program, part of the value of the single score and the weighting is that this has been commonly agreed. By allowing different leaderboards to be generated this dilutes the impact of the main leaderboard.
Success tracking is also about flexing the algorithm until it’s right. By forcing everyone to focus on the single score it encourages a deep debate on what metrics should be tracked, their weighting and the score algorithm itself.
That’s why on Rise you won’t see a leaderboard with the ability to sort by any metric even if there are more than one metric shown such as in the Gamification Gurus Power 100 board below:
operational dashboards that enable front-line workers and supervisors to track core operational processes
tactical dashboards that help managers and analysts track and analyse departmental activities, processes and projects
strategic dashboards that let executives and staff chart their progress toward achieving strategic objectives
Each type of dashboard offers three sets of related functionality – monitoring, analysis and management but in different degrees. For example operational dashboards focus more on monitoring, tactical dashboards help users analyse the root causes and strategic dashboards focus on achievement of overall management goals.
Instead of being focused on a traditional command and control management structure, the Success Tracking approach recognises staff to active participants in their own management. We want to see staff discover autonomy, mastery and purpose.
To enable, this a Success Tracking dashboard blends Eckerson’s three types of dashboards from the point of view of the user not the manager.
In success tracking we are now doing requiring all three performance dashboard types – monitoring ourselves, analysing our patterns of behaviour and managing our own progress journey.
This is different from the traditional approach where only an operational dashboard is given to staff. Each staff member is expected to monitor specific activities but is not being asked to take a wider view. Someone monitoring activity isn’t expected to ask “is what I’m doing as effective as I could be? Does it help me reach my overall goal?”
Real time isn’t that important
One side effect of this is that real time information, as is usually associated with monitoring use cases, can get in the way of analysis best practice. Instead freezing the data into periodic “releases” is more helpful. This means we can faithfully compare this week’s performance with last week’s for example.
Introspection and analysis requires time set aside to look at the data from a wider perspective. By notifying staff on a regular timetable – say the same time each week – you encourage the formation of analysis habits, setting aside time to consider progress.
The key though to understanding and planning your success tracking program is think of it from the “player point of view” – how does this help someone achieve their epic win? how does the dashboard show them how they are progressing on the journey? how does it allow them to self-optimise?
Most analytics systems don’t stretch beyond the numbers themselves: they don’t provide a narrative that applies to the context.
Most web businesses and bloggers are familiar with Google Analytics – the free web site visitor analytics service. It’s very much a one-size fits all approach:
The Google Analytics layout is pure business dashboard design thinking – you can see graphs which represent the numbers visually. There is a pretty heat map to show time of day but essentially this enables you to access the numbers.
Google Analytics provides no additional context: the visual branding is the same for whatever I am analysing – whether it’s one of my web sites or one of my blogs.
Contrast this with analysing my step count on FitBit:
FitBit here is strongly branded – I’m very aware the I’m on FitBit. I ask my friends if they are on FitBit – I use language like “I’m going to check my FitBit”. In fact the branding is so strong I wouldn’t naturally think of myself as “doing analytics” or “reviewing my statistics”. I just think of it all as “FitBit”.
Branding really matters because it provides a bridge allowing emotional engagement with my tracking numbers.
Imagine if FitBit stats were presented in the same format as my Google Analytics – I can’t see them as being nearly so successful!
With success tracking, we take branding seriously – that’s why Rise Board has its own brand and visual identity:
By taking the time to give your success tracking program a brand you create context for your players, a language, a visual identity and an emotional connection.
A good success tracking program, like FitBit, becomes a brand in itself.