Dec 27, 2014

Data. Strategy. People. Which One is Most Important for 2015?

With 2015 less than a week away, I have seen numerous articles and posts about how companies need to gather more data and learn how to use it better (strategy) to reach their business goals for 2015. What is conspicuous by its absence is the “people” component of all that. Of course, these are mostly companies that sell data systems that are writing these articles and posts, so it makes sense that is the focus of their message to sell their product and service.

Fully consider it, though. You can gather all the data available. You can have the best strategy. But, without the people that can use the data and implement the strategy, it is to no avail. Let’s look at just one example that can either make the data and strategy run like clockwork or cause it to completely and utterly fail.

Communication. Like all industries, the data industry has it’s own language. Not being from that ‘world’ I won’t even try to get into the jargon. Here’s what I do know (and, this applies to almost any industry); there will be breakdowns in communication because of the jargon. The IT and other people that are familiar with the jargon will use it freely, even when talking to company executives, salespeople, and others. Sometimes intentionally. That intention can be a bad intention if the person, or people, desire to do things they know their audience wouldn’t approve of or to give them an air of superiority over others.

Beyond the industry jargon, there are many other communication (mis)behaviors that can reduce an organization’s strategy and data to becoming a huge cost. People have learned to delete, distort, and generalize information. These are wonderful time-savers when everyone being communicated with are “on the same page” and fully understand. Realistically, this is rarely the case. So, in our communication, we many times take these verbal shortcuts believing that others have fully understood the pieces that we left out or glossed over, much like in the “Seinfeld” show where they used the term “Yada, Yada“.

The human mind also goes through the process of Abstraction. There is an Event (Something happens), we use all of our Senses to experience the event (Do our senses tell us everything about the event?), we Evaluate the experience based on our past experiences (Is our evaluation always the same as what really happened in the event?), and we give all of this Meaning based on our judgments, feelings, attitudes, reactions, behaviors, inferences, etc. (Is the meaning we give to the event the true meaning?). As the questions posed ask, have we accurately perceived what we saw, heard, and felt? Just suppose a person didn’t. What problems would that cause?

There are many more ways that people mis-communicate and slow down or even stop an organization from reaching its goals for the data, and strategy it has for the data. You might want to focus on your people before investing heavily into data processes. You really should become aware of how your people can contribute to a higher degree to the success of your organization’s goals before implementing your strategy. And, you can accomplish this (and more!) through Stealth Communication as you rollout the new year.

Creating life in forward motion,
Dr. Edward Lewellen