The bloat cycle

I’ve spent a lot of time working on business dashboards over the past few years. And every dashboard has gone through the bloat cycle: start small and elegant, get a new metric bolted on every time a senior exec asks a question which the current version doesn’t answer, and eventually become so long and illegible that everyone, especially the person producing it, hates the dashboard and wants it to die. The final death knell is usually when you realise that a calculation has been badly broken for some time (3000% year on year growth? Really?) and nobody has noticed because nobody is actually reading the whole thing.

In the end, the people who look at the daily numbers basically want to know a couple of things:

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