Organizational Readiness for Analytics Practitioners (Part 1 of 5): Traditional and Next Generation Views

Posted by Greg Silverman on April 30th, 2013 at 8:00 am

One of the most common issues I see analytics practitioners struggle with when developing new partnerships is organizational readiness. They are on board with the new project, they are excited, they are full of ideas…. Now what? Well, seeing whether they possess the right organizational readiness to implement their ideas and the project successfully is frequently the next step. Readiness is not just funding a project and assigning resources. It is often intertwined with removing organizational barriers. I think four characteristics shape how an organization operates, responds to change and new opportunities, and ultimately implements the ideas and projects they have accepted: culture process, structure, and expertise.

Below I have summarized the typical view and the way I would like to see the relative importance of each characteristic rated.

As you can see, the traditional approach creates a "point allocation" that spreads the importance over 100 points. I believe that the next generation community of analytic practitioners will follow the skewed approach I explain in the table. Here's why:

To me, the traditional view signifies a big obstacle to successful innovation. A while ago, I came across an article in Forbes, “Move Over Entrepreneurs, Here Come the Intrapreneurs,” by David Armano of Edelman, that touches on the cultural imperative I have articulated. One of the things Armano says is that intrapreneurs “want to be on the front lines of change.” How can change occur in an environment where expertise, structure, and process are each only a few steps away in terms of importance from culture? Change is often very difficult, as these other organizational characteristics can often stifle a culture. Expertise, structure, and process are applauded, while the culture is actually what needs to be emphasized so that employees can explore new ideas and break away from the standard way of working.

Ever have a partner express interest in your project but then warn against discussing the matter with other specific members of the organization? It is certainly understandable if doing so would jeopardize the project because politics, misinformation, and egos would sully a good idea. But why does this happen? It does not have to be this way.

Another frequent complaint I have heard in the context of implementing projects is that new ideas need to go through certain channels and processes to get anywhere. Often it seems that people are upset that good sense and innovation are stifled by rigid structures and processes – and on such a big scale that it is incredibly difficult to fix. So, what do they do? They don’t try to fix it. They bypass it. They use secrecy instead of transparency. They engage in politics to protect from other project-killing politics. That doesn’t seem right, now, does it?

So, is this “next generation” view of the organizational quadrants – culture, process, structure, and expertise – starting to make more sense now?

Take a look at your organization. How important are each of these quadrants in your organization right now? What value would you assign to each?  If there is a disconnect between what you want your company to be and what you are, that’s okay. If you realize where you need to go, that is a step in the right direction.

One Response to “Organizational Readiness for Analytics Practitioners (Part 1 of 5): Traditional and Next Generation Views”

  1. David Wasserman says:

    I live this every single day. Expertise is a dime a dozen. The culture of a place will sink an analytics project faster than anything...

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