The 3-Step Process to Cleaning Out Your Operations Closet

Think back to when you were a kid and your parents told you to clean your room. Did you gather up the mess, shove it in the closet, and marvel at how much better everything looked? (I definitely did).

But, as we know now, hiding that mess didn’t make it magically go away for good. As soon as you opened that closet door, an avalanche of clutter would come tumbling out.

If you’re part of an operations team for a company experiencing hypergrowth, it’s not uncommon to fall into a similar habit. You’re constantly building new systems before completely resolving the problems in older ones. These issues inside your organization build up over time – until one day, the closet door inevitably bursts open and these unresolved issues become impossible to ignore.

Today we’re cleaning out the closet, together. At Drift, we use an organizational tool called the “Danger Dash.” This tool is a collection of reports inside a dashboard that monitors potential breaking points. In other words, the different places where a system, lead capture, tool, or workflow, could break. I check it daily when I log into my email. It’s a beautiful – but rare – thing for an operations person to see an empty Danger Dash.


I’m sharing my three-step process to create your own Danger Dash so you can be organized for when new issues come up, help your company scale, and clean out your operations closet for once and for all.

1. Identify Your Points of Failure

The whole purpose of a Danger Dash is to alert you of where potential points of failure exist. The easiest way to do this is to follow your customer journey and identify all of the different handoffs along the way. These can be human-to-human handoffs, or they can be exchanges between two systems. You want to identify each individual transition or potential breaking point inside of your processes and create reports to monitor each individual point. It’s important that you don’t skip any steps or breakpoints when setting up these reports – break it down as comprehensively as you can so it’s easy to troubleshoot any problems as they arise.


2. Assign Clear Ownership

If everyone owns it, no one owns it. As you build your reports and assemble your Danger Dash, assign each part of the dashboard to a specific person. This way, when something breaks, there’s one person responsible for fixing the problem – and they can take action immediately.

Your Danger Dash can be sent to your internal customers inside your organization, as well. So, for instance, when a VP of Marketing, CRO, or Director of Sales has an operational issue, they know exactly who they can talk with to resolve the problem.


3. Make Your Dashboard Actionable

This might sound obvious, but you need to be able to action every report included in your Danger Dash. If your report has one contact on it in the morning, it should have zero contacts on it by the end of the day. This will help your Danger Dash flag places where your attention is needed most urgently. If you have a dashboard filled with millions of different contacts or daily trends, you’re going to feel overwhelmed and question whether you’ve actually fixed the issues or not. So make sure each one of your dashboard components is completely actionable.


That being said, your dashboard is not going to be perfect. It’s a work in progress. You should constantly be looking for things that could break, building new reports, and adding those reports into your dashboard. Your Danger Dash should not be a static place where nothing ever changes.

Final Thought

At a previous job I had, there was a sign that read “Let’s make better mistakes tomorrow.” This is what the Danger Dash is all about. You will never be able to predict exactly what will go wrong or identify every potential breaking point.

But with the Danger Dash, you can ensure that (at the very least) your next mistake won’t be the same as your last.

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