It has been incredibly interesting to see the bursts of gym usage followed by long stretches of complete non-use. (My family is not particularly sporty.) At random points, one or more of us will be motivated to attend. In the case of my teen boys, this generally has to do with an interest in a girl. For me, it is usually a run up to some event like a bike trip with friends. And my husband only goes when I make him.
What does this have to do with organizational analytic maturity?
Every year, a big-named analyst firm produces a top ten list of things on the CIO’s mind. For fun, I went ahead and read these reports back about 10 years. I then went a step further and lined the results up with the stock market (Dow Jones Industrial Average). (I am not allowed to share the analyst content here. So, you will have to just believe me or do the reading for yourself.) Some form of BI or analytics has been in the number one slot most of that time with an obvious exception. In the two years following the financial crisis, BI & analytics plummeted to the 5th spot on the list.
It is the same problem as the gym!
There is nothing I am going to do at the gym today that is going to make me healthy in the long run. I need to stick to it and accrue many, many of those days for it to really matter. Analytics is exactly the same. It takes an incredible amount of discipline to be an analytic organization. Individuals need to understand how to think analytically about their work. Managers need to coach performance using analytics. And, leaders need to trust the data and the fact that being an analytically mature organization is ‘worth it’.
In both cases, it is “important” but it isn’t “urgent”.
It is so easy to fall back into old routines or to take the ‘easy’ path. Because this one decision, this one metric, this one piece of analysis – isn’t going to bring the walls down around us. But we know, that even seemingly trivial missteps lead to disaster in aggregate.
Going it alone is hard.
An individual can be successful through their own through strength of will. But in the case of the gym, more often, success is correlated a lot less with the gym equipment and much more with the culture of support surrounding you. Family support, signing up with a friend, or paying for a personal trainer are much more likely to lead to better results.
Executives are like the personal trainer for analytics.
Great personal trainers maintain their knowledge about their craft, check in on your progress on a regular schedule, provide consistent encouragement and feedback, and patiently coach you to better progressive levels of performance.