“If you build it, they will come.” For those of you who are Field of Dream fans, like me, yes, I admit this is a misquote. (It should read, “If you build it, he will come.”) But for the purposes of this blog, we can take some liberties and Hollywood should forgive us. Let’s assume you and other members of the management team are persuaded that business intelligence (BI) is THE way to go to improve performance through data mining and KPI reporting automation. You’ve determined that outsourcing BI makes the most sense and you’ve purchased and are ready to implement the best, most cost-effective, and easy to implement solution available. You’re ready to go, but what about those further down the decision chain? Just because you’ve made the decision, doesn’t mean they will follow. Are they ready? Will they use it? How can you be sure?
Not surprisingly, we have noticed that unless leaders take certain steps, they will be frustrated by implementation’s fitful nature. They spend more time trying to get manager buy-off than solving the problems and seizing the opportunities BI reveals. So what’s required? Leadership. Leadership of change. (I give credit to my mentor, Dr. D. Tyler Nelson, PhD, who over twelve years ago introduced this to me and I now share its highlights with you.)
Change is only the beginning
First of all, change is only the start; it’s a beginning. It’s situational. Over your career how many times have you seen new initiatives introduced with a big announcement, training programs, perhaps a new policy and procedure manual, only to see them at best take longer to be implemented than desired or at worst die of inertia? Why? Lack of effective transition management. A successful transition is essential if the change is to work as planned. In this case, helping people transition from the old reporting habits to enthusiastically embracing BI.
“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.” - John Kenneth Galbraith
Transition starts with and ending and ends with a beginning
To be brief, while change is simply situational, transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It’s guiding people through the process of:
- Realizing an ending to the old ways,
- Acknowledging and dealing with the sense of loss associated with the ending,
- Letting go of the old ways,
- Seeing the vision of the new when the new isn’t fully operational, and
- Embracing and making a new beginning.
Change management is to understand the desired outcome and how to get there; transition management is to convince people to leave “home”.
As the BI champion, you’ll succeed when you acknowledge that transition starts with an ending (of the old) and finishes with a beginning (of the new). It starts with the ending your BI users will have to make to leave behind the old ways of reporting. Within the bullet points above are the keys to what you must do to help your users move through transition to:
- Significantly reduce the negative effects change can have on productivity
- Shorten the length of time from the inception of BI implementation to the achievement of the final desired performance targets. i.e. the use of BI to achieve your organization’s goals
- Minimize the decline in productivity that naturally follows before full implementation is realized
How’s it done?
In short, our successful clients have made BI part of their management culture. It starts at the top; all decisions are referenced and based on the KPIs viewable in the BI dashboard and reports. One COO refers to the primeVIEW dashboard, PCT’s BI product, during the monthly facility financial review. His regional staff and facility leaders must be just as conversant with the KPIs displayed as he is. Not only do they look at the prior month’s financials, but also at the present situation revealed in primeVIEW. It’s the expectation he has established that. “I am using it; so should you.”
In another company, management accepts only reports viewable and generated by primeVIEW. No other reports are accepted.
At the beginning of its primeVIEW implementation, another customer clearly stated to its management team what is going away, that primeVIEW is replacing it, and clearly described how it will make their lives easier. Because managers no longer have to manually prepare reports, they can more productively spend their time making decisions.
One last point, not everyone transitions at the same pace. Each person is different and that’s where leadership comes in to play. As the BI champion you have to acknowledge where your team members are in the transition process and help them to:
- Leave the past behind,
- Get through the wilderness of reporting uncertainty, profiting from it, and
- Embrace new attitudes, behaviors, and identity (as decision makers, not data gatherers)
While BI tools, like primeVIEW, can be easy to learn and use, each organization’s leaders must ensure that transition is skillfully managed and sound leadership principles applied. It’s putting people and processes together to achieve a certain end – full BI implementation.
Change + Human Beings = Transition