The power of a team is simply awesome. I have had the distinct pleasure of working with some of the most effective teams thus far in my career. There are so many great articles and books out there about participating, creating, and enhancing teams. This article is not intended to duplicate these efforts, rather its focus is on the dynamic of data use within a team. The days where there is only one data specialist on a team has become part of the past. Everyone on the team needs to not only participate in the data analysis process, but contribute to it.
Let’s look at a model that is proven to be effective, financial oversight, as an example. Within most organizations every individual in a leadership position has the responsibility to manage a budget that represents the funding of the specific work done by their team. The financial department of an organization does not decide how each dollar is spent. Instead, the financial department makes sure that the flow of dollars is readily available, financial transactions take place, internal controls are followed, and processes and procedures are in place to maintain a healthy organization-wide fiscal environment. This type of financial empowerment sophistication in an organization also needs to be reflective of the data culture.
Key Performance Indicators (KPI) reflect the entire organization, not just one department. Yet, most KPIs are connected to department specific indicators. Often, performance management analysts are charged with the responsibility to pull the information together and conduct the analysis for organization wide KPI reporting. This process of assessing the current state of performance is not a simple extraction of data from a database; rather, it involves further investigation through dialogue with people throughout the organization. The flow of information will occur with greater ease when a team based atmosphere is the norm. This flow of information cannot be constrained to the KPI assessment process. Conversations about KPIs should be continuous. What teams should be engaged in these conversations? All of them. Given that all organizations are unique and have a structure that is unique to itself, lets use an example as a context to examine the team communication that needs to occur.
The best-case scenario is that the Reusable Cup Coffee company was monitoring its company-wide KPIs all year long. The reality is that things come up and the routine of monitoring can become interrupted. It is important to recognize that priorities of the day change and a routine may be interrupted. It is also important to accept that this can happen and not to engage in an “all or nothing” mindset. If any part of the routine is not followed, often people will look at it as a loss rather than a gain. As we move through the next steps in the KPI assessment process an emphasis will be placed on organizational teams using what they have rather than focusing on what they don’t. The best-case scenario generally indicates that conversation between department teams and amongst themselves are evident and have lead to a use of data where there have been no surprises, but confirmations. The saying “out-of-sight, out of mind” is true of KPIs. Often once sight has been restored, surprises in jarring and exciting forms may occur. No one person in an organization, or one team for that matter, can be the only ones looking and monitoring KPIs. A team can take the lead on facilitating the monitoring, but everyone has to ultimately participate.
What if your company is smaller? Maybe there are four people that make up your entire company, perhaps it is a company of one. No problem. For the company of four there must be someone who has taken the lead on the KPI assessment process. Find a thought partner within the company or contract with an analytic partner. If you are the company of one, reach out to a mentor or contract with an analytic company. There are many ways of forming a team, the team succeeds when everyone is committed to your mission and supports a data driven culture.
Blog #3 question: Have you empowered your company with the formation/mobilization of a team to facilitate the KPI assessment process?
Blog #4’s sneak peak: The first step the team needs to take- identifying data sources.