Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Are we prisoners of our own information potential?

When a baby is born all possibilities are there, as the baby matures and grows a series of decisions start limiting how the child, teenager, adult will interact with and perceive the world. If all the babies are born the same way, how is it that some become greater leaders while others struggle to get noticed, how is it that some grow to become rich and famous and others die in poverty? Is every human baby born with innate gifts that will determine who the person will become, or is it the environment that dictates how the baby will grow up? While the question of fate vs. making your own destiny has eluded the biggest minds for centuries, the same paradigm can be applied to Business Intelligence. When a company is incorporated all the possibilities are there, it can become anything: a large corporation, maybe a multinational or maybe just the best company in the block. As it starts maturing a set of decisions are made, contrary to their human counterparts, organizations do not have innate gifs, but rely on the people running them to navigate different alternatives. Once specific decisions are made, like type of product/services that will be offered, market of focus, etc the options start getting more focused, giving the possibility to the enterprise to blossom; data will be an ever present companion in this journey of growth and maturity and will enable the development of the organization from one level to the next. Sooner or later, the organization will face a situation where the analysis of this data will become key in walking the next step in the evolution of the company, at this time the company leadership might decide to foster an open culture that enables collaboration through information or revert to the human nature of relying on key individual’s instincts, thus limiting the information potential. A company, like a human being, can also build their own prison around itself protecting the gifts and weakness that were entrusted to it. While this might seem like the safest alternative, isolation typically leads to not achieving one’s full potential. Human’s personal gifts can then be compared to the information in an organization, both prosper when they are shared and they used to assist others. Breaking this self created information prison requires significant willpower and the ability to establish a vision that freeing the information will enable amazing things to happen. The future is not cast in stone, possibilities open every day before us; the question continues to be: am I responsible for my own decisions, or there is a bigger force driving each of us? The answer lies within each of us, but one thing is certain: we will be better equipped to answer this question if we have all the relevant facts (e.g information) available to us. While not all the babies will grow to be presidents, all companies with an open information culture will become places where ideas can be exchanged and options can be openly discussed, thus leading the way for the company to realize its full information potential.

The league of Information “Justice”

Summer is almost coming to an end, but not before multiple super/anti hero movies have made their way to the big screen this year, including the Green Hornet, Green Lantern, captain America and Thor, among others. At the end “good” defeated “evil” every single time; it seemed so easy that I could not resist applying some of the principles to a Business Intelligence Program. Before you stop reading and call the publisher, let me explain: if you have embarked on a business intelligence project, most likely you intended to do good as well, enlightening your organization by providing visibility they did not have… However along the way, technical limitations, organizational politics or simply unforeseen circumstances might have delayed or canceled your project altogether; If you have been in this situation, I am sure you felt that you were losing the battle against the dark forces of ignorance, your own evil nemesis.
Some battles just might be too big to win on our own, and here is where the concept of the Information justice league comes in. While at times it might seem that you are alone in your organization, and you are the only one “fighting” for the good of the program, I can assure you that there might be more allies in your organization than you realize. Independently they might also be actively fighting their own transformation battles to introduce transparency to the organization through information; in effect each individual becomes its own “vigilante” trying to bring change to their scope of control. Separately of the size and complexity of your organization, you will notice that change is difficult; regardless of the intention or the promised outcomes, the fear of the unknown might paralyze some key decision makers and prevent your project from being implemented, or even launched. On your own, you are a lone vigilante with a charter that even might be questionable from a public light; however, if you were going to join forces with other change agents within your organization, you could establish a league of “Information” justice that would gain immediate credibility given the collective experiences and track record within the company.
Together, this information league could accomplish many things, including facilitating the success of Information projects with the objectives of empowering line level manager to make well informed operational decisions, thus taking the company performance potential to the next level. While the obstacles/enemies would not have gone away, the combined “powers” of this information league would it make easier to defeat declared and subvert foes with the sword of truth and a shield of trust in the battle field of transparency, bringing enlightenment to an enterprise previously in the dark.
You might or might not feel a super hero for your organization, but if you can establish solid Business Intelligence processes and enlist the help of others along the way, you will have effectively created your own league of “Information” justice.