Leaders make decisions every day. If you connect the dots, almost every single decision is made in hopes of eventually making more money, improving the quality of life for their customers, improving the quality of life for their employees, or improving their chances of doing any of those things in the future.
Leaders of organizations have a tremendous amount of data available these days that can help them make those decisions.
This morning I went to a symposium about Business Intelligence. I am no expert, but from my layperson’s perspective, I would say that Business Intelligence is the practice of using data to make decisions.
Organizations that don’t do any Business Intelligence work make decisions based on hunches or “gut feelings”. As organizations start to use Business Intelligence, they start to look at data about what has happened in the past. They eventually start to develop insights locally and then enterprise wide, until they have a mature, predictive Business Intelligence capability. (That’s summing up a lot of what I heard in just a few short sentences, but you get the gist.)
The challenging part of each decision a leader makes is the necessary link to human behavior. A speaker at the symposium actually joked, “people are a big headache”. He said it flippantly, but it was a key insight about how Business Intelligence and Business Analytics translate into improved organizational outcomes.
An organization that wants to change its outputs must always either change the inputs or change what they do with those inputs in their organization. It’s just like a simple machine. If leaders want to change what comes out of their organization (a new product, a different type or level of service, a better positioned brand, better strategic positioning in the marketplace, more money in the bank because less is spent on costly operations, faster ways to deliver products and services, etc…), then changes need to happen inside of the organization.
Analytical models, whiz-bang technical systems that grind and crunch information, and even whiz-bang brainiacs that look at data and develop insights, don’t make the people in an organization change their behavior. And better choices, making more money, and improving the quality of life for customers and/or employees only happen with real people do real things differently.
Organizations are essentially groups of people. Organizations change when the people who work within them change. And changing people’s behavior is another critical area of focus for organizations in addition to top notch Business Intelligence. If better decisions are going to lead to better organizational performance, then people need to be ready, willing, and able to work in new ways.
So, analyzing data can help leaders make better decisions and better choices. And for those better decisions to lead to organizations that make more money, improve the quality of life for their customers, improve the quality of life for their employees, or improve their chances of doing any of those things in the future… don’t forget about organizational Change Management. Organizations change when people change. Regardless of how good the decisions are that leaders make.
Business Intelligence is great. Business Intelligence plus organizational Change Management is even better!