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Brainstorming for Better Decisions
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Re: Brainstorming
  • 10/20/2014 11:03:41 PM
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@magneticnorth, perhaps an intermediate stage is to encourage this sort of cross-unit collaboration after each team makes its own goals. That way, units cover their own tails before donating effort and resources to another unit. Because ultimately, in some company cultures, at first there's going to be this sense of stronger units helping weaker units, until the company culture is changed so collaboration is seen as just that, collaboration.

Re: Brainstorming
  • 10/20/2014 10:03:05 PM
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@Broadway It's not just pairing—I'm talking about all business unit managers working with all project managers. I think it's a matter of creating a culture where everybody looks out for the whole organization, not just one's own "territory." Of course, performance metrics should encourage cooperation. My experience is that goals often run against it. Each unit has its own set of goals, and because of limited resources, they'd rather work on those than serve other units. A matrix structure discourages that mindset.

Re: Brainstorming
  • 10/19/2014 11:16:54 PM
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@magneticnorth, how hard is it to find two managers capable of working together --- without politics and also with coordination? I'd image that pairing is a huge challenge, no?

Re: Brainstorming
  • 10/17/2014 10:11:09 PM
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@Jim this is what I was referring to in my previous comment--a cross-functional team. It would work well for many organizations but I think it takes both maturity and innovative thinking to pull it off. Unfortunately, many mature organizations have become siloed and couldn't seem to imagine a life outside a purely hierarchical structure. The result is that the various units feel misunderstood by the rest of the organization. I still think having two managers, one for the functional specialization and another for a project or client, is the way to go. Both managers should be empowered to train, direct, and assess performance within their own turf. They should also coordinate well so that the business function works for the project or client.

Re: Brainstorming
  • 10/17/2014 9:59:50 PM
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@Jim I'm more a fan of the matrix type of organization, where representatives from varied business units form a team that assigned a project. Each person reports to both the business unit manager and the project head. I've only seen this structure in one organization, but it's worked very well for them. I haven't seen so much synergy in any other organization.

Re: Brainstorming
  • 10/17/2014 9:16:38 AM
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@James I agree. The change in mindset should be started by influencers who can act as catalysts. A person without authority would find it hard to play this role. So the business unit representatives must have authority and also be good communicators who are able to influence their colleagues.

Re: Brainstorming
  • 10/17/2014 8:32:57 AM
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@Phoenix. I think that in that cross-functional team you would want the business unit representatives to 1)Have some level of authority in their own business unit, and 2)Be advocates for the analytics group and able to show their business unit peers what types of benefits they can get from working with the analytics team.

Re: Brainstorming
  • 10/16/2014 8:54:37 PM
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@James A lack of understanding about what analytics could do for them could be the main barrier. Better communication and also closer working relationships would help. Separation of departmental functions like IT, marketing etc. has created a mentality that they are each isolated units. However, if a multitasking team can be created including people from different functional areas a more cohesive team mindset can be built. I have seen such teams created for events, troubleshooting etc. I wonder how practical it would be on a day to day basis.

Re: Brainstorming
  • 10/16/2014 12:22:53 PM
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@Jamescon, I think that's a great idea - sharing risk and reward. Implementing that will obviously require sponsorship from the top - and so, an enlightened leadership that sees the need for this kind of facilitation. Sometimees bottom-up approaches may need to be considered if the organization is not able to incentivize from above. Analytics teams can help show and maintain value by harvesting stories and facts about "wins", and communicating these to stakeholders. Incentives can be associated with these wins, but this would not be as direct as you suggest.

Re: Brainstorming
  • 10/16/2014 11:18:44 AM
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@Balaji. I wonder if some sort of reward system would help to make the business units and analytics teams work better. While you might incent/evaluate analytics pros for things like projects completed on time, quality, etc., maybe they should get credit or money when the department they support with an application hits new metrics. Management might not be able to make the causation link between that data and improved business performance, but the rewards to individual analytics team members would be a relatively small risk in the grand scale, and would go far toward engenderig a culture of cooperation.

And, it would help to break loose that perception that the analytics team, even when they fall under the umbrella of IT, are some kind of utility.

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