Archives For #Data_Leadership

A precursor to my discussion*:

  1. Digital has become such an amorphous term that few can describe what it actually means anymore
  2.  An effective Digital Strategy needs to be based on the Organization’s Core Strategic Objectives

Discussion:

Just prior to the New Year the UK Government quietly posted a notification that it was “seeking ideas for the next phase of the Digital Revolution”. From what I have seen in terms of those responses, they might have been better served by standing on a soapbox at Speakers Corner in Hype Park and asking passers by for their opinions, as their call to action has unleashed a torrent of “thought pieces”, Opinions & rants from virtually every corner of the UK.

Over the past several years, I have followed with great interest all of the Digital Transformation Programs that central governments across the world have embraced in their efforts to bring “Digital to the Masses”, while improving Government services, efficiencies, etc. Most of these have now evolved into “cults” with every agenda seeker and crackpot out there opining the virtues of their “flavor of digital” on social media and at every conference imaginable. During this same time, we have seen ever-increasing budgets allocated to these programs, high levels of management attrition and dubious ROI results being promoted as “savings realized”, but the single most glaring aspect that troubles me in virtually all of them is;  “What is the long-term Strategy”? It certainly can’t be just making better web sites or training the entire population to “hack code”? It is in this vain that I offer my opinion on “What is needed & what is not in the UK’s next Digital Strategy.”

As “digital” has now become a word without a stable definition, I will endeavor to ground my discussion in the basic notion that; “Digital as a term encompasses all disciplines in respect to embracing all that the Web, Data & Analytics have to offer”.  I refer to these as core competencies and believe that they must be leveraged in an Organization’s strategy in order to be an enabler of the desired outcomes from it. The UK (whether in or out of the EU in the future) must create a competitive strategy that makes its relevant on the world stage in order to capture inordinate levels of external investment, to develop the greatest talent pool in all sectors, etc., all at the expense of its peers. This notion of differentiation is a much more business-like view of the needs of a country, but most have been evolving their thinking in this direction for quite some time now. If the UK wants to “punch above its weight” in the world then it needs to make its core competencies the strongest & most sustainable anywhere, which cannot be easily duplicated or commoditized by countries motivated to do so.

What’s Needed? (to achieve this outcome):

  • Use “Digital” as a focal point to create sustainable sources of competitive advantage for the UK by baking it into every aspect of the long-term strategy for the country (independent of whatever party is in power) and the goals which it must be achieved i.e. Not a fashion statement or feel good program.
  • Develop Digital Leaders (Civil Service, Cabinet Office, MP’s, Charities, etc.) who are more than cheerleaders and partisan politicians. Educate everyone from the earliest age, throughout their entire academic & trade school careers to be literate in Digital, regardless of class or age. Promote Digital Leaders based upon competency and acumen (merit), not beauty, charm or politics. Develop Digital Leaders who “walk to talk” every day.
  • Create a National Culture that embraces “Digital at every turn”, not just one that consumes interesting content over broadband. Make Digital know-how essential to daily life in all Sectors of Government, Commercial & Non-Profit.
  • Invest inordinately in Education, Leadership Development, Infrastructure & Culture to create sustainable sources of competitive advantage in “All things Digital”.

What’s not Needed?

  • Superlatives & Exemplars: Digital is an evolutionary transition from the Analog world we have known for centuries. It is not disruptive, but can be transformational if executed with speed and precision. Hype is not of value in any strategy.
  • Grandiose predictions as to the impact of Outcomes or capabilities. At best, Digital is incremental in terms of benefits and sources of competitive advantage. It is the execution that is critical, not the idea itself. Benefits will manifest over the long term i.e. Transformational
  • Exclusion of any Sector from participation or realization of the full benefits of the Strategy and its outcomes. All boats must rise accordingly in this strategic journey.

A long-term Competitive Strategy for the UK should fully leverage all of its investments & know-how in Digital to date (Capabilities, Infrastructure & People) in order to create clear lines of differentiation in respect to other Countries who are pursuing similar paths, as well as to build sustainability for this momentum far into the future. The realization of  these outcomes will insure maximum benefits to the entire country and all of its citizens for decades to come.

Further Reading:

“What is Digital Transformation and Why do I need to embrace it?” (https://infomgmtexec.me/2015/10/29/what-is-digital-transformation-why-do-i-need-to-embrace-it/)

“Changes in Digital Transformation Leadership: Anarchy or Opportunity?” (https://infomgmtexec.me/2015/10/16/changes-in-digital-transformation-leadership-anarchy-or-opportunity/)

 

 

*- An edited version of this posting appeared in the February 2016 issue of Information Age (UK) (www.information-age.com)

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

 

 

 

 

 

Each year now as I advocate for Top-down Data Leadership by the CEO and his/her Board (as opposed to Proxy Leadership as a “Data Fashion Statement”), I use the 12 Days of Christmas lyrics as a theme to mimic in getting my message out over the holidays (in small bites). 2015 was no exception and you will find below a recap of my Tweets, along with a bit of embellishment beyond the 140 character limits.

Hope you enjoy it.

On the 1st Day of #DataLeadership the #CEO confirmed to the Board his/her Full Accountability for “All things #Digital, Data & #Analytics“. This is the central tenant of the Data Leadership Nexus where leadership manifests from the existing hierarchy which has now assumed full accountability for “All things Digital, Data & Analytics”.

On 2nd Day of #DataLeadership the #CEO & Board outlined the Strategic Outcomes which #Digital, #Data & #Analytics would deliver for the Organization. These core competencies must be leveraged to create tangible outcomes for every Oganization.

On the 3rd Day of #DataLeadership the #CEO & Board set their Data-driven Core Strategy into motion across all facets of their Organization. Data-driven begins with your Core Strategy and all its desired Outcomes. Data (facts) are used to help define the Strategy, to measure its progress along the way and ultimately to characterize the Outcomes in a meaningful way.

On the 4th Day of #DataLeadership the #CEO, Board declared: “We will Transform our Organization into a Predictive Enterprise within 5 yrs.” Transformation is a journey for every Organization. You must set targets along the way and eliminate barriers to success too. This is the role of the CEO & Board and it requires Continuity of Leadership as well as Conviction to achieve the Outcome in a finite time frame.

On the 5th Day of #DataLeadership the #CEO committed the Organization to achieving broad-based #Data & #Analytics Literacy within two years. Data & Analytics must be used pervasively and not selectively. This begins with Literacy & Competencies at all Levels, especially at the top where the most value from facts, measures and insights typically manifests.

On the 6th Day of #DataLeadership the #CEO enacted the Org’s plan to be #Data-driven in All Decisions, Measures & Outcomes going forward. Being data-driven is a major commitment and requires moving from an anecdotal (gut) -based decisioning model to a fact (evidence) -based on. It must occur at all levels where decisioning is required in daily & strategic operations.

On 7th Day of #DataLeadership the #CEO vowed to use #Data & #Analytics pervasively (not selectively) in creating their Predictive Enterprise. Pervasiveness is essential to becoming a true Predictive Enterprise. Data & Analytics can no longer be “specialist functions”, and must be used by everyone in all facets of daily work. This is the linchpin of any transformation strategy used to become a Predictive Enterprise.

On the 8th Day of #DataLeadership the #CEO & Board integrated #Data, #Analytics & #Digital into their #Governance & #Risk accountabilities. Data & Analytics are core to each Organizations strategy, tactics and operations. Their use must be governed accordingly in alignment the Organizations’ overall governance model. This applies to Risk Management as well. Data & Analytics are not outliers and must be integrated into the Org’s Risk Models & related activities.

On the 9th Day of #DataLeadership the #CEO, Board & All Senior Execs began their journey to become #Analytics-Literate Leaders within 2-yrs. The central tenant of the Data Leadership Nexus is Top-down Leadership. However, you cannot Lead what you don’t understand. This requires all senior execs, board members and the CEO to become “Analytics Literate” early in the journey to becoming a Predictive Enterprise.

On the 10th Day of #DataLeadership the #CEO detailed the key elements of Orgs’ Transformational Journey to become a Predictive Enterprise. Every successful Transformation requires a road map that details the key milestones and measures necessitated to achieve the outcomes of the Strategy. These will be unique for every Organization as it maps out its journey and the Outcomes it is pursuing. 

On the 11th Day of #DataLeadership the #CEO & Board assigned #DataStewardship Responsibilities for key #Data Domains across the Organization. There are many critical Data & Analytics domains in every Organization and they must be shepherded through their lifecycle by Stewards who are fully (or partially) responsible for this task. These Stewards are typically at the mid-tier of any organization and act as Asset Managers in the typical sense.

On the 12th Day of #DataLeadership the #CEO empowered the Org to use its rich #Data & #Analytics Talent to become a Predictive Enterprise. Empowerment is essential to the success of any Transformational Strategy. It is the Trust element and each CEO & every Board must instill in the culture of the organization. Empowerment engages every single responsible party in the pursuit of the common goal of becoming a Predictive Enterprise.

Look for more postings on The Data Leadership Nexus and Predictive Enterprises over the course of the year.

All the best in 2016!

RLLeadership-picture

 

My career has taken many paths over the course of time. In my early years I was very much involved in the Music Business, specifically on the audio engineering & studio management side of it. I got my early start in Detroit at a little place called Motown, and quickly moved into opportunities where my engineering & management skills & acumen were finely honed by roles that had ever-growing responsibilities associated with them. My final position in the “Music Biz” before I left for the technology vendor (Sony) & management consulting (IMECS) world was as VP & GM of Criteria Studios in Miami. Criteria was known then as “Atlantic (Records) South” and had many hundreds of Platinum & Gold records (along with other awards) lining the studio walls (there were 5 of them). All of these awards were based on the sales of records by the numerous artists who had produced & recorded their hit records there over the studios 25+ year history. Just prior to returning to Criteria for my last assignment there (I was previously Chief Engineer in an earlier stint), I was the GM for Island Studios worldwide, part of the Island Records Group run by Chris Blackwell. This is where the theme for my presentation at Data Leadership 2015 starts to come into focus (Profiles in Data Leadership).

In 1977 (yes, I am that old) I arrived in London as the new GM to review the Islands studios there, to make final plans for the construction of the second Studio at Compass Point  as well as to support the efforts at Bob Marley’s “Tuff Gong” studio which was soon to be under construction in Kingston on an Island Records property. I spent my time shuttling from the London Kensington Hilton (the site for Data Leadership 2015) to the various Island facilities around London (Hammersmith). I was quite young then in relative terms, but remember all of it as if it were yesterday and realized just how much Accountability was being placed at my feet (not just the Responsibilities of my job description). Island Records was betting a lot of my engineering know-how, my management acumen and my strategic vision for the future of its recording & production assets and other strategic endeavors. I knew then that I needed to become a Data Leader as data (albeit analog) was our business and everything that I did going forward needed to create an environment where all of our engineers, producers & artists (all of Islands artists recorded at our facilities) could benefit from the best recording & production capabilities available anywhere (our competitive advantage) in order to create award winning (and high selling) records, music videos, etc. We also needed our studios to be so highly regarded that the rest of the music business would stand in line to use them in order to create hit records for themselves as well. My ability to accomplish this came from the Top-down Leadership that Chris Blackwell and his Executive Team provided me with and their support & mentorship along this journey. When I left Island Records in 1981 to move to Nashville to perform similar such miracles there I was no longer a young Engineer/Manager, but a Data Leader in my own right. During my tenure we had created the right Data Leadership structures from the Top-down, adapted our Culture to act as one organization in spite of huge geographical & cultural differences and leveraged all of our analog data know-how & creativity to create competitive advantage for our studios and their clients.

When I look back on these experiences and the early tests of my leadership abilities, I realize how much the world has changed around me. Today we continue to have Data Leadership by Proxy where non-executive technical managers are asked to assume accountabilities that Senior Executives are either unwilling or incapable of supporting. We have a myopic focus on technology and buzz words as “engines for innovation”, but realize than neither has the required fuel that only true leadership can provide. And, finally, I see everyone wanting to be a “Specialist Unicorn” in their field of expertise so that they can make more money or feel superior to everyone around them when the key to success lies in the “Pervasive Use of data & analytics, not the Selective use by the few”.

In my presentation at Data Leadership 2015 I will explore the background of Eight CEOs who are featured in my work: “Profiles in Data Leadership”. I will also wax a bit nostalgically about what it was like staying at the London Kensington Hilton before a number of them were born yet.

Cheers,

Richard

Preface:

Digital (adj) the predominate use of Internet, Mobile & Internet of Things technology platforms to radically improve Customer Engagement, Collaboration & Operational Efficiencies.

Transformation (noun): a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance; a process by which one function is converted into another that is equivalent in some important respect but is differently expressed or represented.

Body:

Digital Transformation has become the de jour subject to espouse your beliefs on in 2015. As such, I felt obliged to add my voice to this chorus. Hopefully readers will agree once they have read this.

Digital is one of the key Disruption Initiatives being applied by business strategists & enterprise architects to wake-up moribund industries such as Financial Services (Banking & Insurance), Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), etc. It promises superior levels of engagement with Consumers (Customers) for a fraction of the cost of conventional (Analog) methods (Print Media, Television Advertising, etc.), amongst other strategic benefits. Considering that many of these particular industry sectors spend 5-7% of their gross revenue on marketing and branding activities it is not hard to see why the disruptive approach of Digital is so compelling & attractive to them.

On a technical level Digital speaks to the leverage of many disparate initiatives in Mobility, Internet, Applications, Security, etc. to create a suite of capabilities all focused on Customer & Collaboration. It allows IT functions to create an integrate delivery stream which they can manage end-to-end.

In spite of deep spending on Digital Transformation endeavors, payback still seems illusive for most. Like most Transformational endeavors, Digital is not immune from the intrinsically high rates of program failure & disappointing strategic outcomes. In most cases this is directly attributable to abysmal (dis-engaged) Leadership by the CEO and Board (who cheerlead, rather than take hands-on accountability) and overall poor execution by Consultants who sell Transformation Methodologies & Services to these same leaders. Given the stakes one should ask, “Why is this?” These are my thoughts on the “Why”.

CEO’s and Boards use Transformation as a strategic tool to move a well-established organization out of its current doldrums and into a leadership position once again. It is a black art for the most part as most of these same people rarely understand how to execute Transformational Change and typically bet the farm (so to speak) on Consultants and hucksters i.e. Thought Leaders, who sell transformation as the “cure to all that ails” with the proviso of “Trust us, we will handle all the details”. The failure rate and associated costs of these failures has become so high (and contentious) that all of the top tier consultancies now require their customers to sign gag orders which forbid them from going public about these debacles, much less requiring private arbitration to resolve all contractual/financial disputes. Given this, most Transformation Programs seem doomed from the start.  Digital Transformation is no different in this regard and yet I firmly believe that it is imperative for all Organizations (Private, Public and Not for Profit) to embrace this paradigm shift. The primary rationale for this is the fact that it forces these same Organizations to abandon their backward-looking, gut-based decision making & customer engagement endeavors in favor of evidence-based & “always on” approaches, key components of a Predictive Enterprise. In my advisory endeavors I have always counseled senior executives & boards to “never waste a crisis” in respect to fostering real (transformational) change in your business model and culture and see the pursuit of Digital as such an opportunity. Without a compelling impetus Organizations’ can barely muster marginal or incremental change successfully.

Digital Transformation can provide a unique opportunity to realize the benefits of becoming a Predictive Enterprise while changing the dynamic between the Organization and its Customers (constituents), Partners & Suppliers. It portends to be the single most dramatic overall change that any established Organization can pursue as it breaks its many ties with the status quo and truly transforms.  The key to success is Leadership from the Top-Down (CEO & Board), an Engaged Culture and embracing Digital Outcomes (data, analytics, etc.) as Core Competencies and not IT functions. Digital Transformation is synonymous with what I have evangelized in The Data Leadership Nexus in this regard.

*-An edited version of this posting first appeared as an article in the March 2015 issue of Information Age (UK)

It’s been a while since my last update on the Eight CEO Leaders featured in my series; “Profiles in Data Leadership”. I am actively working on a presentation for this Fall’s “Data Leadership 2015” conference in London where I will discuss each one of these data leaders in the context of “2015 – The Year of Data Leadership” (that’s a lot of references to Data Leadership isn’t it?).

I thought that I would provide a taste of what will be discussed in November through these 3 short overviews. Hope you enjoy it.

Cheers,

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