Real-time data motivates people to perform

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There has been a lot of discussion lately about whether visualizing data can actually be used to motivate people successfully.  I often tell people how essential it is to display real-time data to employees because it just makes a lot of sense. Additionally, my clients also tell me that having a data dashboard in the office really helps them manage their teams.  As a business owner, I was never subjected to having my own performance captured in real time, and I always wanted to know what this was like. Unwittingly, I walked right into my own experiment with my personal fitness regime.

technogymRecently, the YMCA gym in my neighborhood updated a lot of their equipment with technogym  – a main provider in fitness facilities around the world.  I was a little bit annoyed that they were closed for most of the week during the equipment update.  Having said that, I’m not a fitness freak; on the contrary, I need a lot of motivation to go the gym.

The wait for the Oakville YMCA to reopen was well worth it.   Most of their cardio equipment came with a LCD screen that was quite versatile. It had the ability to stream YouTube videos, TV channels, web browsers and a host of other bells and whistles.  More importantly, it came with an app called mywellness. It was being advertised for weeks before I finally made the plunge to sign-up and download the app on my phone.

The mywellness app keeps track of all the equipment that you use and counts your calories with a unit of measure called MOVES.   Before you start, you need to set up your profile with your weight and fitness goals that you want to achieve, similar to other fitness programs.  Another neat feature is that it has quick video clips on how to do the exercise properly.

Did the data motivate me?

YES ! As I previously mentioned, I’m not the most motivated when it came to personal fitness.  My fitness goals were like everybody else – to lose weight, body fat  and tone up those muscles.   Once I started using the mywellness app, I started to see results, although not immediately at first. I’m still working on losing weight, but being Italian, I like to eat pasta “Mama mia!”

Anyway, the program tracked a lot of different variables:

♦ how often I used the machine, using a QR code login

♦ real-time data, whether I was working out or not

♦ comparing my performance from my last visit or the following week

♦ duration of each workout

♦ intensity of each workout

data visualization, fitness app

John Liberatore showing the mywellness fitness app

The only thing it didn’t do was tell me to stop eating pasta!

Looking at this little dashboard of my past performance throughout the week helped me see how well I was doing and got me back in line quickly.

Due to my busy schedule, there were times I needed to cut my workout short during the week.  But with the data looking up at me from my phone as a reminder, it motivated me to get back to the gym for at least a short workout to complete my weekly goal.  Once I did, it would send me a picture of a trophy on my iPhone congratulating me that I achieved my goals for the week. In other words, it gamified my experience. This new digital dashboard/ personal trainer made me accountable and got me to the gym on a more regular basis.  I also felt better and was more focused at work.

Looking at the numbers from my previous weeks was key in helping me increase my performance.  In a nutshell, the data on my personal dashboard brought me a tremendous amount of value.

This is when I had that Ah-ha moment.  The experience of viewing my personal data in real-time and during off-hours gave me the motivation and insights that I needed to perform. The world we live in makes it really easy to lose sight of our goals, due to the many distractions we face on a daily basis. If you need to perform, then data visualization is absolutely essential.

So what’s the big deal?

Imagine having a personal or team dashboard at work.   Imagine how much more motivated individuals or a team would be if they could see their performance in real-time.  Seeing the data for yourself makes a world of difference, whether the results are positive or not.  Without it, friction may develop and tension may build when managers tell their teams to move faster. Staff may feel that management is being unreasonable or asking too much. But we all know the numbers don’t lie, and if the data dashboard communicates the information rather than the manager, this could potentially diffuse any friction between management and staff.  This creates the opportunity for the team leader to lead, motivate and support the team for a successful performance each and every day or shift.

I’ve had some clients tell me their business is complicated.  If they’re using old and antiquated systems to capture data, I always tell them, “Data is data.  If we can export it, we can capture it and visualize it.”  At the end of the day, there is no excuse for not having a real-time dashboard in your work environment. Like my own personal experience with tracking fitness, it will exceed your expectations.

data-visualizationWith both personal and business experience under tow, I suggest that each department of every organization have their own personal customized dashboard created, as it can lead to an overall greater work experience for managers and employees alike. Ultimately, we are all in this together.  If you’re a progressive organization that has bonus or profit-sharing based on performance in place, a data dashboard can be your barometer that motivates and keeps everyone in check.

If you need some advice on how to customize a data dashboard for your company, then don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help you get the information you need to make a well-informed decision.



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