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Data-driven Government: The use of data (aka Facts, Information, Insights, etc.) to support all Decisions, Policies, Performance Metrics, etc. required in the daily & long-term operation of Government (at all levels).

Oxymoron: A rhetorical figure of speech in which markedly contradictory terms appear in conjunction so as to emphasize the statement ; gen. a contradiction in terms.

The notion of Data-driven Government presumes to solve the age-old challenge of balancing “head vs. heart”(1)  when it comes to decision making and associated activities in Government bodies. Data-driven Government creates a culture where decision making & behavioral outcomes rely on Data (aka Facts) to drive each and every aspect of day-to-day operations as well as the long-term strategic goals. The concept is not new at all and dates back many decades now, but has had limited success in Government until recently. The Data-driven approach has been brought to the forefront again as Government’s everywhere jump on the Data, Analytics & Digital bandwagons and proceed to Transform themselves into more agile and efficient bodies which can better serve the needs of its citizens, at substantially lower costs. It is clearly an ideology that has caught on in the numerous Digital Transformation Programs that we see around the world (UK-GDS, US-18F, Australia-DTO, EU-SDM, etc.) and has an almost religious zeal to it in respect to how Politicians and Mandarins characterize it in their advocacy activities (much less those who are actively involved in its delivery). However, beyond the rhetoric is the fundamental question; Is Data-driven Government an Oxymoron or a Reality? I will endeavor to answer this in the rest of my article.

Government (as a service and not quite yet a platform) has become increasingly complex to deliver effectively given the growing demands of daily operations and the increased sophistication & demands of Citizens in terms of their expectations from their Government. At the heart of this is a growing awareness, much less recognition, that Government is more and more like a business which now must compete for Customers in a highly crowded field of competitors. While this may strike some as odd, it is clear to most strategists that Government must keep up with advances in Decision Science used by the Commercial Sector in order to survive (at the polls at least).

To become a truly data-driven Government (and not cynically wear it as a fashion statement) the culture of decision making & performance management must change dramatically. This transformation begins at the very top of Government with the elected Officials who are accountable (with their Civil Service partners) for formulating and executing strategy and defining the associated tactics required to achieve the desired outcomes. These Officials must change their spots from being political hacks who use their power to force outcomes, to those who achieve outcomes by leveraging facts & measures. This approach must then cascade down to all levels of Government (Elected representatives & Civil Service) while remaining aligned along this path. The secret sauce in this approach will be balancing the political agenda of elected officials with the needs of citizens. Data-driven Government provides levels of transparency not currently found today even in the most progressive Open Data programs. The data used to drive these decisions must pass scrutiny by oversight bodies, opposing parties and citizens themselves. This leaves little wiggle room for political agendas to be fulfilled using smoke filled backrooms as a proxy for decision science.

Data-driven Government is a rationale that the Open Data community uses in their advocacy activities to justify further adoption and investments. They speak of “dog fooding” by Governments’ in respect to using their own Open Data to drive outcomes as well as enhancing Transparency. I believe that Open Data remains a PR tool for use by governments to control information outflows and to act as a proxy for transparency that comes from Freedom of Information laws. These efforts typify the fact that political power is hard to give up willingly by elected officials, but given the awareness of citizens to these tactics it will not be long before they are non viable.

In the end, will Governments’ have the political willpower to become truly data-driven or will they continue to embrace the politics of cynicism, power and cronyism? It remains to be seen, but strong seeds of change have already been planted and if supported by strong nurturing (via the electorate), plenty of sunshine (transparency) and nutrients (budget) it can and will become a reality.

(1) – The Head (cognitive) is all the rich data & insights that Governments accumulate and the Heart (emotional) being Politics/Human Behavior at its basest.

Note: This posting appears in an edited form in the January 2016 issue of Information Age magazine (www.information-age.com).

 

 

 

In January 2015 I wrote in my Information Age column about what I referred to as: “2015 – The Year of Data Leadership” (posted on my blog as well: http://bit.ly/1SCPZVr). I wrote on this topic periodically over the course of 2015 and included updates in my presentations at the PASS – “Business Analytics Conference (June – Santa Clara)” & Information Age’s “Data Leadership 2015 (November – London)”. Now that the year is finally complete and as we enter 2016 with a full head of steam, I would like to share with all of you a Report Card that I developed which “grades” the progress (or not) that was made in respect to executing on the basic elements of my Data Leadership Nexus.

There are three foundational categories which I would grade each Organization on in their pursuit of becoming a Predictive Enterprise.

  1. Leadership Literacy & Acumen in “All things Digital, Data & Analytics” (aka Top-Down Leadership)
  2. Strategic Leverage of the Organization’s Core Competencies in Digital, Data & Analytics.
  3. Empowering a Culture of Analytics & Data-driven Decisioning. (aka Cultural Adoption)

These three fundamental categories of the Data Leadership Nexus working in concert with each other can produce the maximum transformation & subsequent strategic outcomes in the shortest period of time. All require close monitoring and nurturing by the CEO & Board along the entire journey to insure the appropriate effects are fully instantiated.

The Nexus of Top-Down Leadership, Cultural Adoption and the enabling Core Competencies of Digital, Data & Analytics creates a unique strategic framework for becoming a Predictive Enterprise. Adopting the framework provides a path to strategic transformation, but requires each “leg of the stool” to carry its full weight.

Grading the success of any organization’s transformation into a Predictive Enterprise will always be subjective so I am using a scale of 1-5 (1 =Failing Outright, 3=Trying real hard, 5=Tangible Success) to provide some granularity, but not specificity as to actual performance (think of it as a trend).

The 2015 Data Leadership Report Card

  • Top-down Data Leadership by CEO & Board: (Grade=2)
  • Leverage of Core Competencies in Digital, Data & Analytics (Grade=3)
  • Cultural Adoption & Empowerment (Grade=1)

My Grading Rationale is as follows;

  1. CEO’s & Boards are beginning to move in the right direction in terms of their Accountability for “all things digital, data & analytics”, but more importantly that they are core to their strategy and must be integrated in up-front, not bolted on later. All Eight CEO’s featured in my series, “Profiles in Data Leadership” understand this intrinsically and did not have to be “converted” after the fact. There is much progress that needs to be made in respect to moving from a Technical view (delivered by IT) to a strategic view (driven from the top-down)
  2. Most (if not all) Organizations have invested heavily (and will continue to do so it appears) in digital, data & analytics solutions & capabilities, but have not made the transition to using them as Core Competencies. This is due to the continued fixation on specialization and not generalization of these skills. I see these barriers breaking down over time, but they are a disabler to achieving the pervasive (and not selective) use of digital, data & analytics to achieve competitive advantage and strategic outcomes.
  3. Moving the Organization’s Culture from gut-based & hierarchical decision making to data-driven & fully analytics empowered is a long-term journey for everyone, but is nonetheless the linchpin of strategic success. The use of Proxy Leaders and Unicorns (aka Data Scientists) is counter-productive to this effort as it leaves the vast majority of the Organization on the sidelines. Organizational Culture is the shadow of the CEO (and Board) and reflects their actions and demeanor. If you have a CEO & Board who are dedicated to Top-down Data Leadership you will soon have an Organizational Culture that is in lock step with the plan to transform into a Predictive Enterprise.

In 2016 and beyond I see major improvements in all three foundational categories, especially as the experimentation with the fashion statements of Proxy Leaders and Unicorns fails miserably and common sense/strategic approaches become the norm.

I will continue to write on this matter and to provide a 2016 Report Card over the coming year.

Stay tuned!

RL

 

 

 

 

 

Preface:

During November’s Data Leadership Conference in London I will be updating the audience on the progress to date that we have made during 2015: The Year of Data Leadership. I promise to share those findings in a subsequent posting shortly after the conference. In the meantime, this is the premise that started the thought process I used:

“The strategic value of Big Data & Analytics can only be realized when they are fully leveraged and exploited by the entire Enterprise. Top Down Data Leadership is essential to the success of these endeavors.”

Body:

As the focus of industry hype moves from Big Data to the Internet of Things we have a unique opportunity to turn our attention to one of the underlying disablers of broad success in using data & analytics to their full potential in any Organization; the lack of Top Down Data Leadership.  During the past couple of years we have seen a fever pitch in Organizations’ anointing proxies to the status of superheroes in respect to Data & Analytics Officers. While there have been many such appointments, most are now being scrutinized as the widening gulf between the rhetoric and reality becomes more apparent. This effort to create “Chief Whatever Officers” has been foolhardy in my opinion, as it has completely dodges the need for the Board and CEO to become directly accountable for the Organizations management and exploitation of data and their leverage of analytics across the enterprise to create a “culture of evidence-based decision making”. My aim in 2015 is to change this dynamic.

In 2015, I would like to create much more than awareness of this underlying challenge, but to make actionable its solution in what I am calling “The Year of Data Leadership”. In the Year of Data Leadership I would like every CEO and their Board (Public, Private, NGO, Not-for-Profit, etc.) to accept the fact that they (and Not IT) are fully accountable for “all things data and analytics”. I want them to embrace this accountability and make it core to their Strategies and Operational Plans. I am challenging them to step up to this leadership mantle and provide the Organization with a plan of action to put it on a trajectory to becoming a “Predictive Enterprise” within 5 years (2020). This Decision Making transformation would move them from being gut-based decision (relying on experience and anecdotes) making Organization to one where evidence (facts, decision science and the appropriate amount of intuition) guide all decisions at every level.

This is an ambitious undertaking for even the most agile of Organizations, but a necessary one if the competitive advantages of a Predictive Enterprise are ever going to be realized. To accomplish such a Transformation I strongly recommend approaching it as follows;

1.- Immerse the CEO, Board & Senior Executive Team in a series of Boot camps designed to immediately (and measurably) raise their acumen and competencies in the domains of Decision Science & Analytics, for “you cannot lead what you don’t understand”.

2.- Make Data, Information & Analytics Core Competencies in your strategic and operational endeavors. Make then pervasive and break down silos and centers of excellence to make capabilities mainstream and ubiquitous to all aspects of your operational domain. This will require investment in staff development and in the early stages may require shadowing of staff with outside experts, mentors and coaches.

3.- Manifest Cultural Adoption by all members of the Organization of this new strategic paradigm i.e. Becoming a Predictive Enterprise. Organizational Culture is “the shadow of the CEO, Board and Senior Executive Team”. It is found in every corridor and behind every door across the enterprise and is molded from the Top-down. To begin to change a culture requires Top Down Leadership to changes it behavior and modify all cultural norms and activities. The entire Leadership team must engage with the Organization directly (with support by Change professionals) to lead by example in regards to championing the new direction and its virtues.

This three-pronged approach will produce the maximum results in the shortest period of time and requires close coordination, substantial investment of time and resources to succeed. It is truly transformational and should not be a sub-priority to other Enterprise-wide strategic and operational initiatives.

The Nexus of Top-Down Leadership, Cultural Adoption and the enabling Core Competencies of Data, Information & Analytics creates a unique strategic framework for becoming a Predictive Enterprise. All components are required to work in concert to achieve a true transformational outcome within any Organization who wants to fully exploit data & analytics for competitive advantage.

*-This posting in an edited version appeared in the January 2015 issue of Information Age (UK)

Over the past two+ years as the vast majority of other Thought Leaders and Industry Pundits have promoted (and hyped) the notions of Big Data, Chief Data (& Analytics) Officers, Data Scientists, etc. I have proffered a new Leadership Paradigm for adoption by all CEO’s, Boards & Executive Teams to use in creating what is widely referred to as “A Predictive Enterprise”. In this new paradigm, which I refer to as “The Data Leadership Nexus” these leaders become fully accountable for “all things data & analytics”. No longer the domain of IT and its proxies, Data, Information & Analytics become Core Competencies for the Organization to leverage pervasively across all strategic activities and operational domains. Critical to achieving the benefits of The Data Leadership Nexus is engaging with the entire Organization to adapt & become a “Culture of evidence-based decision makers” who use its Core Competencies (Data, Information & Analytics) to build and sustain Competitive Advantage in every domain of applicable use.

Missing entirely from The Data Leadership Nexus strategic framework is the need for Czars, Unicorns, Griffins or other Proxies in respect to inherent accountabilities born by the CEO, Board and Senior Executive Team. In the framework; Data, Information & Analytics are not IT Functions, but essential Core Competencies for exploitation. Additionally, the Organization’s Culture, as a reflection of the CEO’s shadow in not only fully engaged in the execution of the Core Strategy, but essential to its entire success.

I wrote extensively about much of this in blog postings of 2014 (A recap can always be found here: https://infomgmtexec.me/2014/09/16/recap-the-data-leadership-nexus/ )

I promised to write a blog in late 2014 on an integrated approach to achieving the goals of The Data Leadership Nexus and in the spirit of the recent holiday season I decided to use the traditional “Twelve Days of Christmas” as a template (via Twitter). Below is my version of this classic. I hope that you enjoy it and understand the “Integrated Approach” that I was endeavoring to achieve.

On the First Day of , the Board gave the Leadership Mantle to make & pervasive across the entire Enterprise.

On the 2nd Day of the gave the Organization a powerful core strategy that leverages & as Core Competencies to achieve strategic outcomes and create sustainable competitive advantage.

On 3rd Day of the spoke to the foundation for Strategic Success: “Top-Down Leadership, an Engaged Culture & full leverage of our Core Competencies”.

On 4th Day of the Organization began its journey to becoming a Predictive Enterprise. It embraced the Four Core Strategic Constructs. (Information is an Asset, Evidence-based Decisioning, Information-driven Risk Management & Analytics-everywhere to create Competitive Advantage.

On the 5th day of the entire Enterprise (from the Top-Down) became competent in the use & exploitation of , & .

On the Sixth Day of the laid out the blueprint for Evidence-based Decision Making at all levels across the Enterprise.

On the 7th Day of the declared to all that “Building a Predictive Enterprise is a top strategic priority for our Organization.”

On the 8th Day of the Board & integrated , & into their Accountabilities.

On Ninth Day of the & the entire Senior Executive Team pledged their accountability to be -Literate Leaders.

On 10th Day of the Nexus of Top-Down Leadership, Deep Core Competencies & an Engaged Culture formed the basis of becoming a Predictive Enterprise.

On the Eleventh Day of #DataLeadership the #CEO & Board rolled-out the Organization’s five-year strategy to become a Predictive Enterprise.

On the 12th Day, the #CEO & Board declared; “2015 will be the Year of #DataLeadership” for our Organization, the first major step in evolving into a Predictive Enterprise .

I am looking forward to The Year of Data Leadership and will be writing many more postings on the topic in my Information Age (UK) (www.information-age.co.uk) monthly column, this blog & during keynote presentations outlined in my Calendar of Events on this site. I will be working vigilantly with CEO’s, Boards and Senior Executive Teams to help them use The Data Leadership Nexus to achieve competitive advantage and other strategic outcomes as A Predictive Enterprise.

Stay tuned!

The Data Leadership Nexus is a path to success when it comes to realizing the numerous business benefits of Big Data and Advanced Analytics which have been extolled by so many in recent times and yet realized by so few. It is the linchpin of your Strategic Plan for building & sustaining “a culture of analytics” to foster evidence-based decisioning, deeper & broader insights, full knowledge exploitation and optimized strategic performance while making these behaviors pervasive across your entire enterprise. In my mind it is the path to realize everything data-related that we have been working on for more than 50 years now in Management Theory, Decision Science and Information Technology.

By definition: The Data Leadership Nexus is the intersection of; Top-Down Executive Leadership, A fully aligned Organizational Culture and the full exploitation of Data, Information, Analytics to create strategic outcomes, sustainable sources of competitive advantage and enterprise value within every organization that wants to become a Predictive Enterprise.

I define a Predictive Enterprise as: “The use of Predictive Capabilities driven by data, information & analytics to; optimize decision making, facilitate strategic & operational outcomes, mitigate risks and to exploit insights across the entire Enterprise”

The Data Leadership Nexus is comprised of these basic components;

  • Top-Down Leadership (by the Senior Executive Team)
  • Data, Information & Analytics
  • Organizational Culture 

Each component was discussed in detail in previous postings. They can be found using the following links;

#: Overview & Introduction:  https://infomgmtexec.me/2014/08/05/overview-the-data-leadership-nexus/

#: The Motivation behind The Data Leadership Nexushttps://infomgmtexec.me/2014/07/25/data-analytics-leadership-missing-in-action/

#: Top-Down Leadership:   https://infomgmtexec.me/2014/08/11/leadership-requirements-in-the-predictive-enterprise/

#: Organizational Culturehttps://infomgmtexec.me/2014/08/28/the-role-of-organizational-culture-in-the-predictive-enterprise/

#: Data, Information & Analyticshttps://infomgmtexec.me/2014/09/09/data-information-analytics-as-core-competencies-in-the-predictive-enterprise/

#: Additional Background Material: “Transformational Leadership for Big Data & Analytics Success” (Three-part series): 

  1. https://infomgmtexec.me/2014/06/27/transformational-leadership-for-big-data-analytics-success/
  2. https://infomgmtexec.me/2014/07/11/transformational-leadership-for-big-data-analytics-success-part-2-establishing-top-down-accountability/
  3. https://infomgmtexec.me/2014/07/20/transformational-leadership-for-big-data-analytics-success-part-3-organizational-design-cultural-adoption/

In future postings I will discuss; “How to Build & Successfully Execute your Transformational Plan for becoming a Predictive Enterprise using The Data Leadership Nexus as a Strategic Enabler”. 

The Data Leadership Nexus has five basic components;

1.- Top-Down Leadership (by the Senior Executive Team)

2.-4.- Data, Information & Analytics

5.- Organizational Culture 

We have explored Top-Down Leadership (#1) and Organizational Culture (#5) in previous postings and will now discuss the combined components of Data, Information & Analytics (#2-4).

In the Data Leadership Nexus the role of Data, Information & Analytics are what Michael Porter calls Core Competencies: “a defining capability or advantage that distinguishes an enterprise from its competitors”. They are not the underlying technologies, associated infrastructure and services that the IT Team is responsible for and what most of the industry conversation continues to myopically focus on i.e. Big Data. Instead, they are the inherent intellectual capabilities & acumen found broadly within the Organization and pervasively utilized across the entire Enterprise. It is in these Core Competencies where we manifest the ability to become a true Predictive Enterprise. The Predictive Enterprise is not a technology, it is an Intellectual and Cultural Construct for Creating Strategic Outcomes for each Organization.

The Core Competencies of Data, Information & Analytics compliment others which are specific to the Industry or Service Sector that the Organization serves e.g. Supply Chain in Manufacturing, Logistics in Consumer Goods, etc. They are that critical pillars that every Organization’s Strategies need to be built on and are ubiquitous in use by everyone within the Enterprise i.e. Core.  Every organization leverages and exploits their Core Competencies to create points of differentiation, drive operational excellence, manage risk appetites and to create/sustain other sources of competitive advantage in the modern enterprise.

As Core Competencies; Data, Information & Analytics drive everyday activities to achieve pervasiveness. Sustainable Competitive Advantage comes from the full leverage of these competencies in respect to the competition or other benchmarks (as found in the Government sector). Typical examples of the leverage points within the Core Competencies of Data, Information & Analytics are the following;

  • Data Curation: The continuous development, enhancement & stewardship of historical, reference, transactional & operational data sources to create the highest intrinsic value and agility for the Organization.
  • Information Exploitation: The business contextualization of Curated Data to create maximum leverage points in support of all Strategic, Tactical & Operational Goals set out by the Organization.
  • Pervasive Analysis: The continuous application of statistical, descriptive, predictive and cognitive decision science to Contextualized Information sources for use in Decision Making, Customer Insights, Risk Mitigation, Performance Improvement and Other endeavors that each member of the Organization is responsible for.

Each Core Competency has companion technical domain activities that are the Responsibility of the IT & Service Delivery Team(s). A collaborative framework is established between Data Leadership and IT/Service Delivery to insure maximum effectiveness and efficiency. IT & Service Delivery works in concert with the Accountable parties in Data Leadership (via a mutually defined RACI) to maintain, sustain and optimize the underlying infrastructure and delivery solutions such that the Strategic Value of the Data is maintained/enhanced and that all Information & Analytics competencies can be fully realized. This approach will typically require new structures in the traditional IT functional suite as well as its Leadership Team. These obstacles are easily overcome once the Organization has established a fully accountable Top-Down Data Leadership structure, strong Strategic Direction and a newly defined Organizational Culture which is driven by the beliefs that; Information is an Asset, Evidence-based Decisioning is the norm, and that the pervasive use of Analysis is the critical path to Real-time Insights, Risk Awareness & Business Agility.

Data, Information & Analytics are no longer outliers in respect to the Short and Long-term Strategies of every Organization. They are constituent components of every Organization’s Strategy in the form of  Core Competencies which must be fully leveraged and exploited to achieve the desired Outcomes and to create/sustain Competitive Advantage in a world where differentiation is hard to achieve and razor thin in scale. Each of these must be utilized to their fullest to create and sustain a Predictive Enterprise.

The Predictive Enterprise has three essential elements for Strategic Success; Effective Leadership, A Committed Organizational Culture & The Exploitation of its Core Competencies. In the next installment of The Data Leadership Nexus we will discuss the Integration of all these elements, along with supporting functions which are required, to achieve a full Transformation of the Legacy Organization into a true Predictive Enterprise.

In the meantime you can follow The Data Leadership Nexus discussion on Twitter via the #DataLeadership hashtag, in the September and October issues of Information Age (UK) (www.information-age.com) and at Data Leadership 2014 in London (October 30th) (www.dataleadership.co.uk). Finally, I will also be setting up private briefings for those Enterprises who are interested in how to transform themselves into Predictive Enterprises for this Fall in the US and UK. If you are interested you can contact me via email: richard.lee@infomgmtexec.com

Thanks for following along.

RL

I have a number of Thought Leadership items slated for going live in August. Below is a listing of their titles and publication dates.

  • August 1st (WordPress Blog Series): “The Chief Data Officer: – Superhero, False God of Data or Fashion Statement? – Reflections on the MIT 8th Annual CDO & IQ Symposium” (Cambridge, MA) (www.infomgmtexec,me)
  • August 5th (WordPress Blog Series): “Overview: The Data Leadership Nexus” (www.infomgmtexec.me)
  • August Early (approx) – IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub: The Privacy Corner – “Privacy and Social Experimentation” (www.ibmbigdatahub.com). If you want to follow all of my blogs on the Big Data & Analytics Hub use this link to set up an RSS feed: (http://www.ibmbigdatahub.com/blog/feed/richard-lee)
  • August 11th (WordPress Blog Series): “The Data Leadership Nexus: Leadership Requirements in the Predictive Enterprise” (www.infomgmtexec.me)
  • August Late – Sept. Early: Information Age: Monthly Column – “The Data Leadership Nexus” (1st installment in this series) (www.information-age.com)
  • August 30th (WordPress Blog Series): “The Data Leadership Nexus: Organizational Change” (www.infomgmtexec.me)

Keep an eye out for calendar updates and additional postings.

Enjoy!

RL