We can create dashboards for things other than vehicles. A few months ago, I created one for our church leadership team. In addition to finances, it shows attendance and money given away and people involved in service. It is a mixture of tables and lists and graphs.
According to Lawrence Butler (The Nonprofit Dashboard), the most important thing an organization’s dashboard can show is progress on outcomes. Outcomes are the actual changes that you are wanting to see. It not what you are doing, but whether what you are doing is making the difference you are intending.
“Defining outcomes can be difficult, especially in the case of organizations with broad missions,” Butler writes. “It is well worth making the effort, though, as doing so helps to clarify the organization’s purposes and sharpen its methods (page 13)”
I work with a number of nonprofits. Most could benefit from figuring out how to measure simply whether they are mattering.
I started thinking about whether it’s possible to create personal dashboards as a way to evaluate whether our lives are having the impact we hope they have.
- It’s easy to count how many posts I write.
- It’s easy to count comments.
- It’s easy to count subscribers.
- It’s hard to calculate the impact each post has on how many people who have how much change in their lives.
- It’s easy to count how many other blogs I have in my feed reader.
- It’s hard to decide whether I am applying anything from any of them to my life.
- It’s easy to decide whether I pray every day, or read the Bible.
- It’s hard to decide whether it is making any difference in my life.
- It’s easy to count the number of jumping jacks I can do.
- It’s easy to track whether my heart rate improves as I exercise.
- It’s hard to track how much the resulting energy allows me to accomplish.
Each of these categories, both easy and hard, is worth tracking. However, the harder something is to measure, the more likely it is to be worth trying to assess.
Because I don’t ultimately want to be measured by the number of posts I write. I don’t even want to be evaluated on the number of “nice posts” or “you’re a good writer”. What I want, what you want, is to know that lives are different in substantial ways because of what we do.
Even if it is one life.
Even if it is my own. And maybe yours.
August starts today. What do you want on your dashboard to measure how you do this month? A post a day? A hug a day? A thank you a day?