Archive for Greg Silverman

Organizational Readiness for Analytics Practitioners (Part 5 of 5): Understanding Process and the Meaning of Value

Posted by Greg Silverman on May 28th, 2013 at 7:00 am

In the last post in my series on organizational readiness, I touched on the role of expertise and its broader significance in the business world, such as its high value when it is rooted in diversity. Now I would like to focus on process.
In the article “Designed for Learning: A Tale of Two Auto Plants,” authors Paul S. Adler and Robert E. Cole write, “A consensus is emerging that the hallmark of tomorrow’s most effective organizations will be their capacities to learn,” and to survive they will need to execute new processes swiftly and effectively, communicate them to the right people, and inspire further innovation. Adler and Cole go on to explain two different “organizational designs” that people believe support this kind of learning: the lean production model and the human-centered model.
Now, if any of you love cars, you may know where I am going with this. Toyota and General Motors utilized the lean production model in their joint venture at the NUMMI plant, and Volvo used the human-centered model at its Uddevalla facility. The lean production model features small, specific tasks for each worker and a team whose members are interdependent and work in a way similar to the Ford assembly... Read more

Organizational Readiness for Analytics Practitioners (Part 4 of 5): Expertise

Posted by Greg Silverman on May 21st, 2013 at 5:00 am

In my previous posts, I discussed the roles of culture, process, and structure in an organization. My philosophy is that culture drives the success of a team, followed by processes that ease the workflow and structure that defines and clarifies roles.
So, what about expertise? There is no doubt that it can be important. Most often, expertise can provide a degree of perspective to a discussion, but again, we are looking at businesses in a fast-paced world. What worked in 1997 is not a guarantee – or often even a good indicator – of what will work in 2014. What benefit strategy testing and decision-making are fresh ideas. How are you going to achieve true innovation and breakthroughs by bringing up past ideas and processes? The answer is, most likely, you will not. Breakthroughs often come not just through an examination of new ideas but through new ways of thinking about those ideas. Think of it this way: If you have a new product idea that follows the same model your company has been following for many years, how new is that product really going to be? Not very.
Recently, I came across an article by a schoolteacher that I thought started a... Read more

Organizational Readiness for Analytics Practitioners (Part 3 of 5): What the Grateful Dead Can Teach Us About Structure – The Role of Culture in Successful Partnerships

Posted by Greg Silverman on May 14th, 2013 at 6:26 am

Structure in an organization might sound reassuring, but it can stifle the free exchange of ideas, which is so important when evaluating tradeoffs. This can be true even when people have the best of intentions. Now don’t get me wrong. Structure is important. However, I believe that it simply should not be the leading concept that drives an organization or its progress and that structure also matters less in the context of other attributes such as culture.
Structure is particularly useful when defining roles for a partnership or specific project. It can help to focus individual goals and create helpful boundaries. A good culture can help open the lines of communication among people with different roles and levels of experience, but a sound structure can help the team to be more efficient. Structure fails, however, when it creates a rigid hierarchy that prevents people from performing at their full potential.
Take the Grateful Dead, for example. The Dead were famous for having a flat organizational structure. Yes, Jerry Garcia was the leader, but every employee had a say in making decisions. At the group’s request, in 1981 Alan Trist, an employee, wrote a document on band organization entitled “A Balanced Objective.” The words he,... Read more

Organizational Readiness for Analytics Practitioners (Part 2 of 5): The Importance of the Organizational Quadrants

Posted by Greg Silverman on May 7th, 2013 at 9:00 am

In my first post in this series, I discussed traditional and next generation views of organizational capabilities as they relate to analytics practitioners. In this post, I would like to take a step back and think about the implications of these characteristics’ values. But first, I will take you on a little detour….
Ever heard of the Motivation / Hygiene Theory, otherwise known as the Two-Factor Theory? You might think that the opposite of job dissatisfaction is job satisfaction, but American psychologist Frederick Herzberg would disagree. In the 1950s and 1960s, he put forth the idea – which he dubbed the Two-Factor Theory – that the things that make people dissatisfied with their job are entirely different than those that make them satisfied. How is that possible?  Aren’t dissatisfaction and satisfaction measures on the same continuum? Well, therein lies the problem – they actually aren’t. At least Herzberg didn’t think so.
As the preface to a Herzberg article in the Harvard Business Review explains, “Ask workers what makes them unhappy at work, and you’ll hear about an annoying boss, a low salary, an uncomfortable workspace, or stupid rules.” What makes people happy and motivated then? According to the same piece, “interesting work, challenge, and increasing... Read more

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... Read more