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business, improvement, lean, Uncategorized

Improving Dashboards With The 3-Meter Rule

Dashboards are critical for a successful continual improvement effort.  Effective dashboards can drive better coaching, faster team meetings, and more effective problem-solving.  A common problem that interferes with the effectiveness of dashboards, however, is the inclusion of charts that attempt to convey too much information and are difficult to understand.  One way to prevent this problem is to make sure that all charts on a dashboard comply with the 3-meter rule.

Simply stated, the 3-meter rule means that a chart should clearly convey its message from a distance of 3 meters.  When looking at a chart, if you need to move close or ask for explanations to understand the information displayed, you can assume that the chart is in need of improvement.

Dashboards should drive conversations around closing gaps between current and targeted performance.  To make sure the conversations are focused and effective, however, they should be centered around data. When the problem or breakdown is not clear, people will spend time attempting to understand the intention of the chart rather than addressing the problems shown by the data.

Besides helping focus the discussion on problem-solving, a chart that meets the 3-meter rule enables more people to be involved in the conversation.  The closer someone needs to be to understand a chart, the fewer people who are able to see the information and participate in addressing the problem.  Minds wander and separate discussions begin to happen, which negatively impacts the effort.

Creating charts that are easy to understand from a distance of 3 meters sometimes requires significant reflection and effort, but the investing time upfront can greatly aid the improvement process by making objectives clear and the problems that interfere with meeting the objectives visible.

About Gregg Stocker

Gregg Stocker is a lean advisor for Hess Corporation. He possesses over 20 years experience in a variety of disciplines including operations, manufacturing, human resources, quality, and strategic planning, and has worked in manufacturing, service, and oil & gas industries. He has extensive international experience, including successfully leading an $65 million business in The Netherlands. He authored the book, “Avoiding the Corporate Death Spiral: Recognizing & Eliminating the Signs of Decline,” (Quality Press, 2006) and was a contributing author to "The Lean Handbook," (Quality Press, 2012). Gregg is a frequent speaker and recognized expert in business and performance improvement having been interviewed on television, radio, and in a number of newspaper and magazine articles including The New York Times, Washington Post, BusinessWeek, and InformationWeek. Gregg has implemented change in organizations ranging in size from $10 million to more than $100 billion. He is a team-oriented leader who achieves results by improving teamwork, focus, and communication throughout the organization.


3 thoughts on “Improving Dashboards With The 3-Meter Rule

  1. Hi Gregg, I just found your blog and I’m very excited about going through it. I’ve begun learning about lean thinking in the last year (I just completed my Lean Bronze Certification Exam) and I’m astonished that there aren’t more examples of its application in the onshore oil and gas space given the low prices in the US and global markets. I think that lean thinking, properly applied, provides the potential for sustained high performance in an industry that has historically been content with riding the boom and bust cycles. Thank you for sharing your experience and observations. I look forward to learning from you.


    Posted by jd1ven | January 4, 2017, 10:27 pm
    • Hi Justice. I think the application to onshore O&G is starting to grow. It’s success may be short-lived, though, if leaders fail to understand that lean requires a fundamental transformation in thinking – and leading. Those who jump into it purely to cut costs will see their costs rise again when oil prices climb and activity starts back up. Hess has been deploying lean in its onshore operations for more than 6 years now and has made some remarkable improvements – yet still realizes that it has a long way to go.

      Thanks for the comments.


      Posted by Gregg Stocker | January 5, 2017, 10:55 am
      • Thanks for your response, Gregg. I think your point is well taken, that Lean is not a consulting exercise undertaken when the price drop, rather it is a philosophy and culture which must be built and sustained in good times and bad.
        Regarding metrics, I appreciate the point from your previous post, that metrics must be part of a problem solving process. Otherwise, we drown in ever increasing mountains of metrics divorced from the needs of the business or their utility to the very people responsible who can close the gaps.


        Posted by jd1ven | January 7, 2017, 7:03 pm

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