One of the things you develop a knack for as a pilot is called the scan. It’s the ability to glance at your instrument panel and gather and interpret all the information available there without focusing on the panel. That means the airspeed, the altitude, the attitude, the RPMs, the manifold pressure, the fuel, and the heading, for starters. This becomes vastly more complex if you’re flying in instrument conditions and talking to ATC at the same time.
Why can’t you focus on the panel or one instrument? Because if you do, something else will go haywire, and before you know it you’re chasing issues and trying to make adjustments to so many things at once, you find the plane is flying you rather than the other way around. Believe me, it can get overwhelming pretty quickly. Airplanes are complex. You’re keeping track of movement along three axes of possible movement. And all the information on the panel is relevant to that task.
So, you are taught to develop the ability to scan, to see, understand it all at a glance, and respond appropriately. Needless to say, this takes practice and time. It’s an ability that evolves the more you fly. It is usually well established before you get into instrument flying, or you will fail at that task.
We have developed instrument panels for business, too. We call them dashboards. They contain the most important and hopefully the most up to date information about the health and direction of your business. You don’t have to absorb the information there at a glance, but you do have to study them regularly – or your ability to navigate your business through the daily the perils and challenges that litter your path will be compromised.
What is on those dashboards depends to some degree what you and your CFO feel are the best indicators for you to be abreast of. They will probably contain sales and cost information, as well as information on marketing, customers, employee performance, physical assets, cash, etc.
However, no matter what info is on those dashboards, if you’re not reviewing them very regularly and making whatever adjustments are necessary, they will be utterly useless for you. Because, like flying an airplane, things can go wrong pretty quickly with any business. And if you’re not there to see those trends as they develop and adjust, you can lose control of the whole thing.