Eliminate Job Frustration Without Changing Companies

Are you drowning in job frustration? Surrounded by a bunch of inefficiency? Feel like you’re stuck in the dark ages at your company and know there are ways that your organization could be performing better? Well, you should be sitting down as you read this – I know I was shocked to find this out about myself: You’re probably frustrated because you’re a CHANGE AGENT!

A Change Agent is a person who acts as a catalyst for change. There is a well-researched correlation between the speed of change at an organization and the person who is leading the charge. Organizations that have Change Agents helping to push the boundaries of what can be done RACE to improved performance through a larger amount of “buy-in” from peers and management. Malcom Gladwell discusses this concept in his book “Tipping Point”, and Seth Godin eludes to this idea in his book “Tribes, we need you to lead us”.  There is far too much good stuff about Change Agents in those publications to discuss in this blog, so I’ll just recommend them as good reading.

So you’re a change agent – you’re the 20% in the 80/20 principle for your organization or department. You can see (and probably hear all the time) that inefficiency is slaying your productivity, and you probably have some ideas that could stop the bleeding. Save time, save money, make more money – essentially in the mind of a Finance person: BE MORE PROFITIBLE. The most valuable people at any company are those who make or save the company money – and we’ve just handed you the gold star you need to get started!

We think there are a few key components to being a successful Change Agent, and while you may not own each of these by yourself, it is understood that you probably have a network around you that can help you fill in gaps.

  1. A Clear Vision
    • You have a yearning for sustainable change that is meaningful to others and the organization
    • You may not be the person with authority, but you have clear ideas
    • You’re able to communicate your ideas clearly (prepare for discussions)
    • Understand there’s more than one way to accomplish the goal, so ask for ideas
    • Able to identify strengths in others to assist in getting things done
  2. Is Patient AND Persistent
    • Meaningful and lasting change does not happen overnight
    • Ability to help others buy into your vision: Build your team
    • There will be many steps to the goal, each is important
    • You’re committed to making sure people and steps are moving forward
  3. Ask tough questions
    • You’re accountable to see this through – your team must see and feel that to back you
    • When people have an emotional connection to the change, they are motivated
    • Challenge the status quo (possibly the scariest part)
  4. Knowledgeable & Leads by example
    • Articulate the change you want to see, but also show it to others
    • Upper management has sometimes lost touch, their buy-in is important, but you and your team have the expertise and are closest to the areas that need change
  5. Strong relationships built on trust
    • This is a “we” project, not a “me” project
    • People will not want to grow if they don’t trust you
    • Approachable & reliable
    • Tough conversations ALSO build trust

Lodestar is seeing an increasing number of clients asking for our expertise in helping them find Change Agents to add to their Business Analytics organizations. We hold regular seminars to support and grow the work of Change Agents for our clients. We have even been asked (repeatedly and recently) to look over clients’ job postings to help them invite Change Agents to interview for open positions in their Business Analytics organizations.

Your Change Agent status is probably VERY important to your company…they just don’t know that you’re there!  So now that you’ve been dubbed a Lodestar Change Agent, your first order of business is to make your ideas known! Start gathering attention and folks that can help you get things done! Call a meeting, rally the troops – this is going to be big because who doesn't want to reduce or eliminate job frustration.

One Version of the Truth is Not Attainable

One Version of the Truth is Not Attainable

I recently met with a financial executive of a large distribution company and he expressed to me his frustration.  The company had invested in a Data Warehouse and deployed a leading BI solution and yet, they still had issues with “one version of the truth” (OVOT).  They spent significant hours trying to validate which numbers were correct.

With a slight smile I said, “One Version of the Truth is Not Attainable.”  He looked at me in shock, because many highly paid consultants had told him he just needed to invest in a data warehouse and master data management (MDM) and then put a BI tool on top.  I continued to explain that for most organizations; especially those growing through acquisitions, one version of the truth would not be a reality.  However, there are definite steps and considerations that can get you closer to “One Version of the Truth”.

1. Leadership needs to come from the Business Executives
. Guiding your organization to realize the benefits of OVOT requires strict discipline. The Executive Sponsor needs to plan out their strategy for implementing the solutions, while looking at both the short term and long term goals.
a. Putting the right resource in place. Including knowledgeable subject matter experts in the core team may require pulling them away from their regular jobs and having others backfill, but the benefits will be tremendous.
b. Providing appropriate funding. By setting short and long term goals, you can prove incremental ROI’s and justify future expenditures.
c. Setting priorities. The leadership team needs to set the priorities and communicate them to the entire organization.  This should include establishing incremental steps to measure the ROI along the way.  Often times, other organizational priorities will be in conflict with the OVOT initiative, so executives must set the priorities.
d. Identifying and communicating risks of bad data. The business is really the owner and creator of data.  IT protects it.  The executives need to communicate that.  To be successful, the business must take ownership and understand the risks of bad or incomplete data.  When this message comes from the top, people listen.

2. Master Data Management (MDM) is not an IT project.  The business must be involved in MDM or cleaning and managing the data.  We recommend that someone with in-depth knowledge of the business be assigned to the team, as they can understand and articulate the impact of poor data quality on the business.
3. Strict change management. Once the data warehouse and MDM foundation have been established, strict change management rules must be established and enforced.  Various subsystems and business units should not be operating in silos where their changes can impact other areas of the business.
4. Silos of data in an acquisition. The reality is that if you are in acquisition mode, you will always have data sources that are not fully migrated to the corporate structures and systems.  You must plan to have short term and long term solutions to deliver reporting and analysis that includes data that has not come on board. I refer to this as the MacGyver approach, as you have to make it work with what you have on hand.
5. Eliminate “duct tape and super glue” reporting. Many talented BI report writers have been instructed to just make the reports work, so despite challenges with the data, they write queries and code into the reports to make them work.  I call this the “duct tape and super glue” method.  The report writers need to work with and communicate the data challenges to the data team so they can correct issues at the source. This issue is magnified as the organization pushes out self-service to the end users.  Duct tape and super glue will not withstand the pounding of end users.

If you would like to learn more about how to navigate data and realize an increased ROI on your Business Intelligence investment, contact Lodestar Solutions about our new Executive Coaching for Business Analytics at 813-254-2040 or email us at Sales@LodestarSolutions.com.