I’m a big fan of Stephen Few who has written some nice books on data visualization and dashboard design. What I dislike in his writings (and that of a lot of other business intelligence practitioners) is the overemphasize on bad performance.
The winner and runner-up of the recently held dashboard competition by Stephen Few both overemphasize the worst performers of a fictitious high school mathematics class. This is done by ranking them from worst to good grades and by adding additional (red) signs marking the worst performers.
Of course this overemphasizing isn’t that strange because our analytical mind has a problem-solving attitude. And yes: bad performers are a problem. And most of the time the solution to tackle these underachievers is easy: fire them.
But the good- and top performers are much more interesting. If you analyze these sweet-spots you may find interesting behavior that can be repeated on more places in your organization, e.g.:
- In department XYZ a strict quality control on incoming key products is conducted, resulting in far less scrap and rework.
- In company ABC management enforces a great service identity resulting in less headcount turnover and great customer satisfaction.
- Sales representative Brit has found a great way to identify prospective buyers with significant budgets and her new customers realize 200% more than the average new customer.
- James uses the online colleges of Khan Academy to deepen his understanding of Mathematics which contributed to his better grades.
These best practices can probably be reproduced by others in your company or class. And can potentially cause much more impact than firing underachievers. However identifying the root cause of top performing actions is more difficult: You probably need to ask a lot of questions to these overachievers to determine better- and best practices.
This difficulty shouldn’t be a reason to ignore them!