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The Top 3 Enterprise Performance Concerns of Executives

Posted over 8 years ago

I have just had the great pleasure of hosting a dinner for a select group of 25 executives from industry and government to discuss the latest issues and concerns in regard to enterprise performance. In the lovely surroundings of a private dining room at Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin Starred Maze restaurant in London, and over some stunning food and excellent wine, we explored the top challenges leaders in business and government are facing at the moment.

Here is my take on the top three concerns that I would like to share with you.

The Economy and Delivering More with Less

The one issue on top of everyone’s mind that night was the economy. While recession seems to be behind us (we hope!) recovery is very slow for most industries. At the same time consumer expectations seem to be rising all the time. Executives from industry were expressing concern that the lean times are continuing and only little light was visible at the end of the dark tunnel. Many were still seeing dark clouds brewing over the horizon and there was uncertainty on whether these will just pass over or whether there will be more storms to come.

Executives were in agreement that this was a time when they had to focus on what matters most to customers. Identifying the key value drivers and then optimising processes to deliver these in the most effective and efficient was the priority. Many warned of the dangers of generic cuts or cost saving initiatives across the organisation. Instead it was seen as important to focus on real value drivers and optimising those, which sometimes even means investing more money.

When it came to government and public sector leaders, the discussion was similar: The need to focus on the things that actually matter to citizens. However, the public sector representatives were much more concerned with possible service deterioration and their prognosis that in the future they could only deliver ‘Less with Less’. It was interesting to see them talk with their commercial counterparts and realise that the commercial sector has just been through difficult times similar to those the public sector is about to enter.

Cultural challenges and lack of ‘intelligence’

One of the themes that came up strongly during the discussion across sectors was the lack of buy-in or the lack of recognising the importance of good quality data. Everyone felt that their companies had masses of data but was struggling to really make best use of the data to inform strategic decision making. Everything I talk about in my book ‘The Intelligent Company’ was still very relevant:

Executives wanted better data and better awareness of the importance of data quality at the data collection stage

Executives wanted better analysis in order to turn they data they already had into mission critical insights

Executives wanted better, more relevant, and more real time performance reporting

Executives realised that more top-level sponsorship of fact-based decision making was necessary to create a culture in which good data leads to improved decision-making and better performance across all levels of the company.

The one challenge that stood out was getting the data for the things that actually matter the most. Many executives felt that while they had tonnes of data they were still ‘flying blind’. One actually said that all the performance reports would cloud the clear view out of the window; that the data would often obscure the view of the road ahead rather than improve the view. The reason for this was that they felt it was difficult to measure and collect data on the really important and interesting issues. The data they were reporting was often the same data everyone else was collecting so not providing any critical and new insights.

When we were discussing this one issue that came up ‘hard’ versus ‘soft’ data. There is still a lot of mistaken belief out there that ‘hard’ data is better and can only be collected through large scale surveys and data collections. Soft data or subjective data based on people’s opinions in not seen as valid or useful. I believe that this is really dangerous ground. Instead of discarding soft evidence we should embrace it. In my experience with some of the world’s most successful companies I find that well constructed metrics that rely on good professional judgement are not only easier and simpler to collect but usually massively more insightful. However, we have to balance (or triangulate) our soft evidence with harder evidence, preferably from independent sources, to ensure our picture of reality is true.

Comments (2)

Vau Pro
Vau Pro
vaupro.blogspot.com

Hardly ever the needed data is available and reliable when the need to measure performance appears. In many cases effor stops there; “can’t be done. Too much work”. It requires management actions and determination to make data reliable. Furthermore it requires corporate wide co-operation. The topic I would raise here is having a corporate support service strategy, which would define how support services – IT, R&D, HR, KM,… – focus on critical success factors in close co-operation with each other in order to make relevant data available and reliable.

Posted over 8 years ago | permalink
Vau Pro
Vau Pro
vaupro.blogspot.com

Hardly ever the needed data is available and reliable when the need to measure performance appears. In many cases effor stops there; “can’t be done. Too much work”. It requires management actions and determination to make data reliable. Furthermore it requires corporate wide co-operation. The topic I would raise here is having a corporate support service strategy, which would define how support services – IT, R&D, HR, KM,… – focus on critical success factors in close co-operation with each other in order to make relevant data available and reliable.

Posted over 8 years ago | permalink

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