When good enough reporting is OK

OK is a bad word in our house.  Its like “fine” or “satisfactory”.   Nothing troubles me more  than hearing my wife say “it's fine”.  OK or good enough always means there’s room for improvement.  

Good enough is OK in reporting and dashboards when you and your audience know:

  • there is an improvement plan to move beyond good enough
  • you’re testing the waters and actively engaged in getting feedback
  • there’s a bunch of iterations planned
  • you’re available for Q&A

More specifically for reporting or data presentations good enough usually applies when:

  • there are new metrics or measurement is evolving; e.g corporate sustainability metrics
  • its a 1.0 report with a 2.0 planned and funded in the near future

The worst aspect of good enough is that it rarely triggers the desired response. Think about the last time you saw a restaurant health certificate that was a “B”.  It's good enough to still be in business and selling food, but what was your response to seeing it?  Do you think it was the response the restaurant wanted?

When displaying data either in a report or presentation you should consider if “OK” is a desired response.  What if after sharing a presentation that you put hours of effort into, your audience’s reaction was, “It was OK”? How would that feel? Consider the last mile of your efforts to ensure they're received as more than good enough.

When is good enough NOT OK?

Here are a few situations when sharing data where good enough is never OK:

  • customer annual or quarterly performance reviews
  • supplier/franchise performance reporting
  • launching a new product or report offering

In these cases you have a limited window for success.  There aren’t chances for a do over with your audience. You want the intended emotional response and not the indifference associated with good enough.

How do you avoid OK?

You avoid OK by being tuned into your audience.   See Cole’s recent post on audience for some tips. The better you “get” your audience the more likely you’ll exceed good enough.  For some specific tips on audiences also check out the Audience-centric design principles section listed here about midway down the page.   

Let us know if we've missed some instances of where good enough is OK.  We'd love to hear from you.