Monday, February 7, 2011

Show Your Cards

A short time back Ian Clemens wrote a piece on the benefits of getting enterprise data out into the open for folks to see and understand as a means of improving its quality and completeness.  He notes a recent article in InformationWeek where the CIO of Proctor & Gamble speaks of initiating change by floating imperfect data as a means to force change.  Well rock; I agree with that CIO.  Nothing gets the feedback coming like running data up the flagpole.

As a matter of fact, this particularly proactive here is what we know tone reminds me of a client ours who is doing just that.  Novartis  communicates their information within the organization, as-is in near real-time, both as a means of a true reconnaissance, and as a driver for improvement of content and its means of delivery.  Karl-Friedrich Franz, Head Performance Visibility for Novartis Pharma, and strong advocate of quality through exposure, puts it this way: Displaying incomplete information will encourage the data provider to improve the quality of submitted data.

There is a spectrum of caution within which every organization, or departments therein, fall.  Some, like Novartis, give light to the state of the data and welcome the feedback that the exposure provides, while others sit on data until it is immaculate (this almost never materializes) and the project languishes.  But it has been my experience that groups who open the closet doors of their data benefit from it's tidying up...

  • Data, to a certain extent, will always be imperfect.  Awaiting the hopeful arrival of the pristine results in stagnance and missed opportunities.
  • The organization may have been previously unaware where gaps in data lay, or that there even were gaps.
  • MIA data may exist somewhere within the organization, but the dots had not yet been connected.
  • Knowing that others are seeing incomplete data motivates those in a position to contribute.

What's more, early, even incomplete, initiatives (so long as they are framed as such) generate enthusiasm and no shortage of ideas from stakeholders, and just seeing data, perhaps for the first time, can lead to unexpected discoveries.  I've seen no better way to get a project kicking than a healthy commitment to share data early and welcome the clarification, completion, and application ideas that come.

How did they carve this?

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