My previous three columns focused on the visual aspects of the dashboard including the framework, the color palette and the graphs. As you may recall, the framework alternatives alone included a board of director viewer, briefing book, balanced scorecard, portfolio chart and operational dashboard. Twenty-five potential graph choices could be selected from basic, difference, distribution and specialized graph styles. With all the possible variations to choose from, how does one determine the preferred visuals to meet the needs of a particular business-user constituency?

The performance management needs of the senior executive are certainly quite different than those for a line-of-business (LOB) or operations manager. Tailored environments and "management at a glance" are now the operational mantras of the day. The Six Sigma toolkit includes an optimization technique known as design of experiments (DOE) which can streamline the selection process of the preferred visuals. By presenting business users with combinations of alternatives, DOE can statistically separate the preferred visuals from the less desirable options.

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