I wrote this memo to a C-level client and (thankfully) never hit the send button. After you read it, I’m sure you’ll agree that coaching and feedback discussions are best had in person. Later, I did exactly that in a casual setting, but nonetheless wanted to share the memo, which offers my views on how leaders can accelerate that analytics capability:
I enjoyed meeting with you last week. Our exchange of views on the political climate and trends in the industry, the need to dramatically improve efficiency in the current distribution model, and the role of technology and advanced analytics was intellectually stimulating. But as I read through my notes and reflected on our conversation, I felt compelled to tell you that you may need to do things differently in order to accelerate your analytics capability. Please let me explain.
If you recall, I worked with you and your team in 2012 to craft your sales strategy (predictive analytics was all the rage then). That and your strong belief in the power of analytics led you to invest in an advanced analytics capability, and create a team with data scientists and analysts, new data governance processes, new data warehouses, new sources of data, new analytical/reporting tools, and the like. Now, six years later, you’ve shared this update, which I’ll paraphrase:
- The organization continues to focus on building the analytics foundation and running reports
- Very little in the way of actual analytics (advanced or otherwise) has been used to crack tough problems. Often, the answer to requests is: “The data is not good enough” or “We can’t do that until the CRM system (or pick another tech project) is fully launched.”
- The analytics team doesn’t understand enough about the business and struggles to meet our needs beyond basic reporting. On the flip side, the rest of the organization does not quite know what to expect, or even what to ask for, from the analytics team.
Of course we can discuss tactical solutions to each of the issues above, but it seems to me that your analytics organization needs a jolt out of its inertia. The slowness and lack of progress may actually stem from lack of mission clarity and an understanding of how critical analytics is to the future of your business, and that is a sign that you may need to do a few things differently.
I asked myself several times whether I should share my views with you, but in the end I couldn’t, in good conscience, let this go unaddressed. Let’s find time to discuss the following three steps to right the ship:
- Communicate the importance of data and analytics to the future of your business. Bring the future you envision to life and clearly illustrate the role of analytics.
- Confirm that all your strategic goals are being accelerated by analytics. The capability was created to help you accomplish things like grow revenue, cut costs, create efficiency and strengthen your position for the future. I suggest that you emphatically challenge your teams to use analytics to hit their goals.
- Take an active role in driving the adoption of analytics. First, set an example: If you start to actually rely on analytics (beyond the routine management reporting) to make decisions, the rest of the organization will follow. Second, ask for evidence that the analytics is actually creating the value you seek. Get into the details. And remember, you shouldn’t ask the fox how safe the hen house is.
I understand that you may completely disagree with my observations. If that’s the case, we should speak sooner rather than later, and I will gladly be wrong.