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It is critical to dissociate maintenance metrics from improvement metrics. For maintenance metrics, I use a dashboard and for improvement metrics, I use a scorecard.

Car dashboards display key indicators such as oil pressure, engine temperature, transmission temperature, fuel gauge, etc. Keeping the vehicle running normally is the goal. Any issue with one of those elements could put the car out of service. Companies also need dashboards with key indicators to help keep their operations running smoothly. The dashboard is used to "keep the lights on and the doors open." As soon as one of those indicators signals degradation, we should intervene urgently to get back to "normal" conditions.

Improvement metrics may be managed on a scorecard. Each improvement goal requires an improvement plan with a set of activities. The improvement plan is a hypothesis to achieve an expected goal. On a weekly or monthly basis, the improvement plan should be checked, and two fundamental questions asked: 1 - Did we conduct the improvement activities we committed to conduct? 2 - Are we getting the results we expected? Based on the answers to these two reflection questions, the plan may need to be adjusted toward the stated improvement goal.

Used this way, maintenance metrics included in a dashboard only require a plan to react. Improvement metrics always require improvement plans to achieve higher performance. Dashboard plans are urgent, while improvement plans are important.

Dashboards may have many maintenance metrics (my car has dozens of maintenance indicators), whereas scorecards have only a handful of improvement metrics. In my experience, there are diminishing returns to the number of improvement goals. The more improvement goals a company has, the fewer it will achieve. This is because of its limited improvement capacity and focus on what matters.

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