The Success Tracking Difference (5) – Player Controls

In this mini-series, “The Success Tracking Difference“, we are focusing on the differences between the new discipline of Success Tracking and traditional analytics / business dashboards.

Giving staff more control over how they are measured can lead to higher motivation and performance. Photo by Sergey Svechnikov

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“.

The Success Tracking Difference (4) : Sorted One Way

In this mini-series, “The Success Tracking Difference“, we are focusing on the differences between the new discipline of Success Tracking and traditional analytics / business dashboards.

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:

Screenshot 2017-07-19 18.21.44
In Success Tracking everyone focuses on the main score, you can’t reorder (sort) the leaderboard by any of the sub metrics.

Now you know!

The Success Tracking Difference (3) : Self-Management

In this mini-series, “The Success Tracking Difference“, we are focusing on the differences between the new discipline of Success Tracking and traditional analytics / business dashboards.

Success Tracking enables introspection and self optimisation. Photo by Ben Warren

In Wayne Eckerson’s book, Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business he describes 3 types of performance dashboards:

  1. operational dashboards that enable front-line workers and supervisors to track core operational processes
  2. tactical dashboards that help managers and analysts track and analyse departmental activities, processes and projects
  3. 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.

Key takeaway

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?


The Success Tracking Difference (2) : Branding

In this mini-series, “The Success Tracking Difference“, we are focusing on the differences between the new discipline of Success Tracking and traditional analytics / business dashboards.

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:

Screenshot 2017-07-17 11.35.56
Google Analytics gives little opportunity for branding your analytics program

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:

Screenshot 2017-07-17 11.32.56.png

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:

Screenshot 2017-07-17 11.57.26Screenshot 2017-07-17 11.42.30

Screenshot 2017-07-17 11.43.04
Every board on Rise is branded differently

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.

The Success Tracking Difference (1) : Single Score

In this mini-series, “The Success Tracking Difference“, we are focusing on the differences between the new discipline of Success Tracking and traditional analytics / business dashboards.

The single score is probably the most far reaching difference.

Compare the following images, one of a typical “business dashboard” the other of a single score success tracking program.

A business dashboard tends to feature several data visualisations without enabling the viewer to see a summary of everything in one go. It is designed with “monitoring” in mind – the idea that you are always watching the monitoring dashboard in case something goes wrong.

bad dashboard
A typical business dashboard layout with several graphics competing for attention

A success tracking program, such as the LinkedIn Social Selling Index, on the other hand, is designed for regular check-in and focuses attention on a single number.

Screenshot 2017-07-17 10.12.39


There are many benefits of tracking’s single score approach:

  • Simple to understand – everyone can appreciate a single number
  • Fast personal comparison – you can quickly see if things have changed (gone up or down)
  • Easy to communicate – you can send a single score via SMS text
  • Embeds priorities – you can add another layer of intelligence to the tracking by weighting different metrics and so prioritising some over others
  • Enables peer comparison – you can benchmark and rank yourself against others

The main disadvantage of the single score is that it takes time to design a good one. Working out the relative importance of different metrics is never straightforward. it is the job of the score designer to embed their own expert biases in the weighting. That means each “score algorithm” should be adjusted for the local context and business priorities.

This also means that just taking an “off the shelf” index such as that provided natively by companies like LinkedIn with SSI above, is not a good strategy.  Using someone else’s weighting is unlikely to deliver as great returns against your business goals as if you created your own single score weighted to your business preferences.