Leading for Success with your Business Intelligence Initiative: Part 3

In my previous post Leading for Success with your Business Intelligence Initiative: Part 2, I discussed the value of Structuring-creating a shared vision and building an atmosphere of engagement and energy for the BI initiative. The most important aspect of Structuring is that it incorporates and defines the entire BI ecosystem (culture, goals, people, process, technology, information) that people want to be a part of and contribute to. The next key to improving your success is improving your Understanding of the ecosystem.

The U in Success

Understanding

Another good investment is taking the time to build relationships with and among the BI development team and stakeholders. Actively involving others, with a working knowledge of the BI ecosystem, in planning and design issues is critical to building institutional commitment and designing the right solution. Research shows that the bigger the issue, the more likely we are to suck it up to ourselves. While this may seem like the wise course, think about the message it sends. Either that your people aren't capable of handling these issues or that you don't trust them. Another implication is that they don't gain the experience and skills they would need to eventually handle tough issues. So, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Most importantly it prevents you and the BI initiative from utilizing self organizing teams-one of the other keys to BI success.

It'll be easier for people to get behind you and support the BI initiative if they feel some direct connection to who you are and what you're about. This doesn't need to be personal information. What you need to concentrate on is sharing information about (a) how you see the team living up to the vision; (b) improving the depth of understanding of the BI ecosystem; (c) sharing some of the obstacles the team faces; and (d) building trust and soliciting their input. Where feasible, let them in on new developments and provide context that will help them understand the necessity for the change. In short, create the narrative of what's happening in the larger institution and create an atmosphere of trust and open communication. If you can do this then you have an opportunity to utilize "Self-Organizing" teams. Self-Organizing teams (a) assign tasks to each other; (b) they coordinate and review each other's work artifacts; (c) they collaborate on project activities; (d) they make project-related decisions (together); and (e) they take on another team member's tasks when needed. Additionally, working in this way is (a) much faster; (b) communicating and coordinating activities among all the team members is more efficient and less error-prone; and (c) greatly improves synergy and knowledge transfer among team members. These are all critical factors for improving you BI success.

Even if you aren't ready to unleash a self-organizing team, I would recommend creating a recurring forum where a workable number of employees, say six to ten, can interact personally. In addition to hearing your thoughts, they could ask questions about the institution and provide feedback about any impediments in their part of the BI solution to achieving the vision.