Why do they make car speedometers that are scaled to 160 mph – more than twice the legal limit? The impact of this decision crams the usable half of the indicator into half the size it could be, making the gap between normal driving speeds quite small when there is plenty of space to make the distinctions that matter actually be legible.

Organizations are guilty of this, too. They utilize scales for reporting that mask small changes, even though that growth is significant in perspective. Or goals focus on attaining a portion of the entire population (equivalent to 160 mph) even though the realistic market is much smaller (equivalent to 0-60 mph).

An unrealistic scale serves no purpose. The next time you are putting any number forward, whether on a speedometer or a report, see if the high point of your range is even remotely attainable. If not, recalibrate your display so that smaller differences can be detected and managed, making the whole reporting mechanism much more useful to all.

 

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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