Leading for Success with your Business Intelligence Initiative

Aug 06, 2010

In my previous post, Business Intelligence Initiatives Get an "A" for Effort and a "C" for Results, the respondents indicated that the major reasons for the lack of business intelligence (BI) success were institutional and not technical. If you're a manager, director, vice president or even the president of your institution, I have a simple question for you. Who is responsible for the success of your institution? I pretty sure that your answer is the same as mine, we all are - after all, I can't do it myself!" Good answer. Unfortunately, research shows that people in a managerial or leadership role regularly take on too much responsibility for the success of their areas, and this predictable behavior has its consequences. Specifically, leaders often feel burdened, exhausted and overwhelmed. Additionally, the leadership for BI initiatives normally falls to an existing successful executive or manger that has BI success added to their existing plate of responsibilities. But, what most institutions fail to understand is that the previous successful behavior of these individuals may be limiting the success of their new BI team and initiative.

Barry Oshry, a leading theorist in human systems theory identifies the behavior of "sucking up responsibility" as the predictable response to the complexity and responsibility inherent in the "Top" space and that this behavior isn't an explicit choice but a reflexive response. However, this response may be detrimental to the success of your pervasive BI initiative.

Thoughts on improving your BI SUCCESS

No matter how skilled and experienced the leader, an institutions' BI success will be improved if you can tap the creativity and commitment of your entire institution and BI team. In the next blog posts I will explore some strategies that may help you do just that, but first a note of caution. I'm sure we've all heard the familiar refrain, "Don't ask me; I just work here." This comment identifies an individual that is uninformed and belies an attitude of non-accountability. Ultimately, you can't empower others; each individual must make the choice between being truly engaged and challenged in their work lives and being passive and lackadaisical. But that doesn't let you, as a leader, off the hook. It is in your best interest and the interest of the institution to create the conditions that enable others to take responsibility and to succeed with your BI initiative.


  1. Oshry, Barry Seeing Systems: Unlocking the Mysteries of Institutional Life, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, 2007.