Building Data Rhythm – a blueprint for outcompeting in a complex world

by Zachary Zeus
November 22, 2018

Why do some organisations successfully outcompete, while others struggle? How do some leaders get more out of their people than others? What patterns do successful leaders put in place?

In this article, I will use the concepts of beat, rhythm, music and ovation to explore the idea of leveraging data to make better decisions as a pattern for organisational success.

To further explore the metaphor, let’s refer to how Wikipedia defines these ideas:

  • Beat is “the basic unit of time” – this is the data and information, the pulse, of your organisation
  • Rhythm is “any regularly recurring motion, symmetry” and “the timing of events on a human scale”, a repetition of a sequence of beats – these are the day-to-day activities of the business
  • Music is “sound organised in time…performed with a vast range of instruments and…techniques” – this is your organisation’s weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual cycles
  • Ovation is a word for triumph – these are the quarterly and annual results the business is aiming at.

Data and Information as Beat and Rhythm

Data and Information are the beats of a modern, knowledge-driven organisation. These facets align with the company’s daily rhythm – the day-to-day activities of the people throughout the organisation with the operational and strategic intent of the business.

This alignment, though, is not a straight line, just as rhythm is not linear. It is correlational to (and from) all business activity – and when it becomes causal in decision making, these beats and rhythms can significantly transform the quality of decision making. Is this easily achieved? In one word – No.

Does your business keep the rhythm and beat aligned?  In other words, is the available data being used to inform daily activities and decisions?

Ultimately, the beat and rhythm inform the little day-to-day decisions that an organisation, a business unit and each individual make towards the goals and objectives of the business. We at BizCubed focus on helping organisations making these day-to-day decisions a little better each day.

Decision making – your rhythm’s repeat

How long until a business decision can be made? (How long until the rhythm repeats?)  Looking at it another way – how many business decisions can you make in the given time?

The main decision that people make in modern organisations is where time and energy are focused. How much time is spent on collating information (busy work), how much time is spent on actual value-creating activities (which can be defined as ‘real work’), and how much time is spent on social media or other distractions (non-productive work time).

You can imagine two equivalent people that complete an equal number of value-creating activities, but they spend vastly different amounts of time in each of the different areas of ‘work’.  The quality of the decision making will naturally be different.

Business leaders must transition people from a mindset of putting time into work to a mindset of making better decisions. This transition leads to a greater percentage of ‘real work’ being done, better quality of work being executed. But this is not an easy transformation. To facilitate this transition we need to minimise ‘busy work’. The reason to focus on ‘busy work’ is that if ‘busy work’ takes up a lot of time, it takes away time from the core decision making. Additionally, it is also natural for people to spend more non-productive time while they are doing ‘busy work’.

Reduce the noise

Much of the time, people confuse ‘busy work’ that they actually do as the value-adding work that they should be doing. So how to distinguish the ‘busy work’ from the value-adding work? We do this by identifying the value-adding activities that a person can uniquely undertake and execute on. What are the nuances to their decision-making process? What is the strategy around customer engagement? Is there an opportunity for straight-through processing which will be better for the customer?

Organisations who have successfully aligned their beat and rhythm have been able to do so by enabling data provisioning to be readily available.  Without up-to-date, reliable, easily accessible data, a company can’t effectively align daily operational activities and decisions with the data needed to make those decisions.

Automation towards Improvement

We use the lens of what is the best outcome for the customer to drive the items that we leave to people, vs what we try to automate. The reality here is that most organisations have a backlog of such ideas and opportunities, but due to the technical complexity of the automation goals, the ability of the organisation to actually achieve this is extremely limited.

 How to get started with Beat and Rhythm – start small

We look for quick low-cost, high-impact ‘wins’ that streamline existing activities.  Often these solutions mirror current manual processes but are designed to remove the manual steps in the business process. For example, it’s common to start with ‘Excel to Excel’ –automating the long-running, often manual, processes that suck the life out of key analysts.  The benefit of this is that we can increase your team’s productivity, start training your organisation, free up resources to work on bigger and more complex processes, build your organisation’s data language and show success before a large investment is made.

If you want to start building data rhythm in your organisation, identify manual processes that are sucking time from key team members and work to automate them.  This will free up key resources to help you continue to automate, which will translate into improved data orchestration and rhythm.  By automating and freeing up key resources, you are well on your way to improved business results and your ovation.

Coming soon… our next article where we explore Organisational Cadence as Music, Business Results as the Ovation plus more tips on building your blueprint…

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