Assessment & Action Plans
In a blog posted before I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, I compared the climb to data transformation.
Seem overwhelming, with no clear pathway to start.
Have a similar adventure like qualities
Come with a fear of change
Clearly, a framework is needed to accomplish both data transformation and a big climb. A way to leverage current assets and create a plan to execute. Here is one to consider using.
PHASE ONE: Assessment
An organization should not start data transformation without an assessment of their current condition. Likewise, it is not advisable to start climbing Mt Kilimanjaro without a medical evaluation. It was comforting to know that I was in great shape to climb, but I needed to strengthen my endurance and anything I could do to help with altitude bonus! (I live at sea-level. Not ideal for climbing to extreme heights)
An assessment will help identify the current condition to establish what are the organization's strengths, obstacles, and suggest a reasonable place to start.
When assessing the current environment, the following are questions to ask:
How does the organization assess the current changing environment?
What does our customer/member need and does the organization a) fill that need, b) how effectively
What are your strategic capabilities? Do they provide us with strategic agility
What is our organizational culture? Is it nimble enough to transform?
What is our organizational data maturity? Is it more in infancy or hitting puberty?
What is our transformational plan? Does it incorporate the theory of change?
What is your current organizational technology stack? If it is like most, it has strengths, but having an objective party provide analysis is critical to understand the current state
Who are your partners? Internally, what is the current state of the leadership team? Are they ready to take on data transformation? Or are they checking boxes? Externally, who can you trust to partner with your organization that genuinely wants your organization to succeed?
Based on the outcome of the organizational assessment is the following valuable insights;
What to keep
What to stop
What to start
PHASE TWO: Action plan
This phase is where all the work accomplished in the assessment pays dividends. In the climb, many work streams needed to progress for success. The first was logistics - Getting to Africa from California was three flights and jumping ten time zones. There was also a visa and many vaccines.
But most importantly, there was finding the perfect partner. Finding a tour company was crucial to success. There are many tour companies, so making a choice was not easy. I was looking for a tour company that fit not only the basic needs of safety and security but also had a reputation for a fair wage (this was important to me) and have a culture that fits mine. Second, there was the equipment. I was going to hike and tent camp for eight days in 6 ecosystems, with temperatures ranging from 80 degrees to minus 20. The third work stream was training. I needed to accomplish two goals in this work stream. First, to test the equipment for effectiveness. The second was preparing my body for endurance in many types of conditions as well as elevations.
Similarly, the action plan for data transformation is built upon the assessment. The concurrent work streams for successful data transformation are:
Enterprise data vision
Like with all large initiatives, there has to be a vision statement. An example data vision statement is, "To create revolutionary member relationships." And yes, connecting enterprise data is the foundation to that, but the WHY is around impactful member engagement. The data vision should be clearly articulated and have the support of the organization.
The member/consumer is the ultimate end-user of the data, so creating a data transformation plan that focuses on the end-user is critical for success. The following are few considerations:
- What is the member/consumers' true north?
- what is the member/consumer friction and disruption?
- what is the member/consumer's story, and how is that guiding their journey?
- What is the member/consumer's data use case?
- How what the current member/consumer's ecosystem, and does it deliver what it needs?
One of the most overlooked areas in data is enterprise maturity. Many organizations feel that data maturity will organically occur. That is a fallacy. Data is an incredibly robust asset and requires love and attention to grow. Specifically designated governance, education, and yes, a plan. Here are some questions to use in assessing the current state of data maturity:
Which is more mature a teen or your organization's data?
Do you have a formal data governance program? Who leads it? How is success defined.
What is the state of your organization's BI?Does it meet the needs of the member/consumer? Will it achieve the data transformation plan?
What are your data tools? Do they support the organizational BI?
A significant capability that any organization needs to have to be successful in data transformation is the consumption of data. This is not as simple as providing data, and magically, it will trickle down from the top and be consumed. Data consumption is equal parts of culture and capability.
- Where is your organization on a scale of data consumption?
- Does everyone have confidence in the data output, or do they spend a significant portion of time validating and verifying data?
- How innovative is the organization, can they leverage data to create new solutions, offering, and processes?
- What processes doe the organization has in place to help foster new ideas/processes and learnings?
The solutions that help to connect the data are only as powerful as the organization's capability to adapt to the insights.
This is quite possibly the ultimate destination for data transformation. When an organization has the vision, strategy, and resources to achieve goals, then by default, it is creating new capabilities and quite possibly a new culture. Workplace adoption is also not an organic development; many successful organizations use centers of excellence to help propel new capabilities and culture and continue the trajectory the data transformation plan ignited.
- What does workplace adoption look like at your organization
- what is a center of excellence, and who would one be structured, function, and measured?
While this is quite a bit to consider, it should be. As mentioned earlier, data transformation and climbing the tallest freestanding mountain in the world are not simple tasks, and should not be taken a such. That is why incremental growth and concurrent work streams are key to success.
Achieving great things is rarely simple or easy.