On the shelves in the business topics section of any bookstore are numerous books about leadership and management. I have never considered myself a motivational writer or speaker that describes the importance of executives’ rallying the workforce with inspiration. In my career I have seen examples of leadership that reflect their individual desire for power more than a duty to improving organizational performance. My writing and speaking interests are more with equipping managers and employee teams to help their organizations be better, faster, cheaper, and smarter.
Muscle or brain. Strength or smarts. I choose the latter in both cases.
The primary source for improvements in organizational effectiveness and decision making is shifting toward the use of analytics of all flavors. Traditional approaches like 1980s management by objectives (MBOs), bullying employees, and hollow wall banners of rhetoric (“Quality Comes First”) are being superseded by deploying and integrating analytics.
Applying analytics from the CEO’s top desk to each employees’ desktop enables an organization to solve complex business problems, manage performance to achieve measurable objectives with targets, drive sustainable growth through innovation, and anticipate and manage change. Just having a foundation for analytics is important too, and Ann All describes this well in her blog Process Management Is Weak Link in Real-Time Data Chain. She observes, “ … companies are having and will continue to have problems with all of the data they are collecting. It takes time and effort to run reports and get them to the relevant people and additional time for those people to tell the relevant systems what to do, assuming the right systems are in place.”
In particular a powerful flavor of analytics is predictive analytics. Applying predictive analytics results in making proactive, forward-looking decisions that go beyond low end query-and-reporting questions like "What happened?”, “How many?” and “How often?” to answer high-impact questions like “Why did it happen”, “What will happen next?” and “What is the best that can happen?”
I credit the New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd for my blog title. Her column was “Less Spocky, More Rocky” describing politicians; but when I applied this title to mission-directed organizations, like yours, I swapped the two names. I would prefer to have an organization with Star Trek’s Spock-like logic and analytical skills than one like Rocky Balboa punching meat carcasses in freezer.
Too Many Rocky C-Levels, Too Few Spocky’s
Unfortunately, many organizations are controlled by the Rocky’s. The saving grace is that many of the Rocky’s have a Spocky in #2 role or off to the side acting as an adviser. Working through the advisor can give the BI/IM group credibility and a champion. The nice thing about a Rocky C-level is that they are results-oriented and care little for methodology. They are not opposed to BI/IM – they just need to show that it has bottom-line impact. Successful BI/IM projects can do just that.