Analytics Process

23 11 2009

Over the last couple of months I have been writing about a handful of US Economic Indicators.  While I have reviewed these over the last few years of my life, I had not done so on a regular basis.  This inconsistent and let’s call it a casual curiosity lead to never really understanding the implications behind the numbers.  Sure I could talk about them, but I could not leverage them.  While not an expert by any means, I can see a lot more now than I did when I started this blog series.

This is similar to ad-hoc analysis without purpose.  We do something once and create a little hype.  When we don’t have any vehicle to take advantage of the newly found ideas, the idea dies as does the learning.

Think about the process of how you handle ad-hoc analytics within your organization:

  • Do you have the right minds constantly looking for new issues?
  • Or, do you put the right minds on solving issues when they arise?
  • Can you name your best analytical minds?  Are they assigned to thought leadership and problem solving?
  • Do you use your analytical minds to challenge the knowledge levels of others?
  • How do you foster new thinking?

 

Consistency breeds familiarity, and familiarity breeds knowledge





People, Process, and Technology

12 08 2009

In every BI vendor’s marketing material is the traditional People, Process, Technology venn diagram.  The promise is that leveraging the combination of the three will unlock enhanced results.

Traditional Venn

In order to use this for performance management, we need to rethink the original deisgn.  First we need a vision on how to bring these together and communicate what matters and how it will be done.  We also need to bring a focus on getting only the right things done and specifically not doing the wrong things.  Words (and diagrams) do little in terms of actions.  For us to achieve sustained performance, we need to understand and communicate which processes can create value (and which do not), what technology it will require, and a focused management process to ensure they get done in a timely manner.

Venn New

As you design your game plans, you need to make sure you are developing not only a plan but how success will be defined:

  • What is the desired outcome?
  • Who gets to define it?
  • How will it be managed?
  • What happens if it goes wrong?
  • Who would provide the best rational for the disenting opinion?




Complexity

21 04 2009

Think of all the complexity we have created as organizations. Whether data, process, people, and of course politics. We time stamp everything we can, we empire build, we work in silos, we do things to do things. Or even worse, we do the things that are easy, or that we like to do. And because of all this complexity there is no way to identify that those activities aren’t helping.

As a company or organization grows, this continues to add to the complexity. We get further and further away from understanding what creates value.

  • What would happen if we started to unravel the organizations complexity?
  • What if we created a new type of organizational hierarchy focused on value creation?
  • What would happen if we just focused our efforts on the stuff that matters?




Blue Ocean, Red Ocean…

21 04 2009

If you have not read the book on Blue Ocean Strategy, I would highly recommend it.  No matter what industry you are in or how competitive your market is, it should make you think about innovation.  Most companies I have worked with find it difficult to integrate innovation into their management cycle, and therefore innovation is done in an ad hoc manner.  

While a Blue Ocean (Red Oceans are competitive markets where everyone has spilled blood) market play may not be for everyone, you can think of new ways to measure the business, process improvements, compensation plans, marketing tactics, etc if you create a more formal manner for innovation.

Additionally, you might find a great deal of value of reassessing the competitive landscape.  It never hurts to discuss how would a new competitor attack the market.  All great businesses find themselves under threat from unseen ideas – this may just give you a more proactive manner to see the ideas coming.  




The Continuous Improvement Meeting – CIM

2 04 2009

Including on this blog, much has been written about meeting management: how to run a more effective meeting, improving meeting outcomes, etc. All concepts in which I am in complete support. I’ve found, however, that it is very difficult to implement wholesale change into an organization’s meeting culture. And there are several characteristic profiles of meeting culture within organizations.

Meetings typically occur for the purpose of communicating information, yet most meetings I’ve witnessed over my career consistently end with no action or accountability to do something. So, what I’m going to suggest here is not a change in your existing meeting culture. Continue to hold the meetings that your organization routinely conducts, for whatever the purpose. But, if your organization is serious about driving operational performance improvement, you need to add a meeting to your schedule. Yes, that’s right. I’m advocating yet another meeting. This meeting is specific in purpose. It never deviates its agenda. And it is a critical management tool for driving performance improvement.

The continuous improvement meeting or “CIM” has five objectives.

1. Review progress against KPIs
2. Identify barriers to performance
3. Share best practices
4. Develop action plans for next period
5. Recognize superior performance

The CIM is 45 minutes in length, maximum. It is conducted at every level of the organization. This is critical to insure all levels of the operation are aligning their efforts with the strategy. Typically, the meeting should occur weekly at the front line to monthly and/or quarterly at the executive level.

The keys to successful implementation of the CIM are:

  •  It is a separate, distinct meeting. Not part of another meeting agenda.
  •  45 minutes maximum
  •  It is held at the same time & day every period
  •  It must be group meeting

One of the biggest gaps in operational performance management is the area of management effectiveness. We tend to focus on effectiveness and efficience of front line contributors. But how exactly does management improve its effectiveness at managing? Try implementing the Continuous Improvement Meeting into your management process and see how much more focus you create around the metrics that are important to your organization’s strategy.





Meeting Management & Agendas

26 03 2009
  • How much money do you spend annually on meetings?
  • Do people show up on time, follow an agenda, and end the meetings on time?
  • Do meetings regularly create and review actions?

Meetings need structure and process, yet most meetings happen because of momentum. “We always meet on Fridays as a team.” We meet to discuss and communicate. Yet this discussion is typically around individual status updates, and less about what needs to happen, or hurdles that need to be cleared.

Shouldn’t every meeting have a well defined purpose to specifically create an action. Change “meet to review project status” to “meet to analyze project performance, understand risks, and make recommendations.” Now we go from asking people to attend the meeting TO preparing the team for the meeting. Roles and tasks should be assigned and materials need to be reviewed prior to the meeting.

Here is a link to Seth Godin’s blog on the same subject – Getting Serious about your Meeting Problem




Continuous Improvement – 3 Acts at a Time

17 03 2009

One of the key items we seem to struggle with is creating a process for continued process improvement. We typically look for dramatic and immediate improvements and lack patience to see things through.

  • When was the last time marketing sat down to specifically improve its top three marketing programs?
  • When was the last time, sales management took the top three clients in each territory to lunch?
  • When was the last time you promoted your three top suppliers?
  • How do we create a mentality and culture of continuous action?

Simple, don’t think, just pick something and get it done this week. All too often we get stuck in a mentality of trying to figure how to improve everything at once, instead of tasking a bunch of good people with three things to do by the end of the week.