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Data’s Great Escape: Our predictions for 2019

In 2019 data will escape the confines of dashboards, PowerPoints, leadership meetings…and even time! The coming year will see free-range data and all the benefits that come along with that.

Here’s what we are predicting for 2019:

Visualizations will report current data (and commentary) as they travel across email, PowerPoint, calendars, and documents

Data, visualizations, and commentaries will travel across platforms – email, PowerPoint, meeting invitations – remaining current all the time.

Imagine seeing some data that you think your Sales Team needs to look at. You click and drag the graph and put it in the notes section of a calendar invite and send it off to the Sales Team.

Now imagine a few days later, people are preparing for the meeting, they click on the invite and see the most recent data in that chart – not the old data from two days ago when you sent out the invitation! Maybe you add a few commentary points and click and drag it over to an email that you send to your colleague.

When your colleague opens her email she sees even more recent data plus your comments… and so would anyone else that opened the original invitation, etc. Maybe she adds a few more notes for clarification and so on. The chart is a living thing that continues to be up to date and also a repository for all the surrounding analysis.

This means graphs no longer need to live in dashboards, they can thrive anywhere, as well as in dashboards. The graphs can accumulate knowledge as they pass through the screens of diverse stakeholders.

The charts are no longer time-bound. Charts reflect the latest data, all the time. This means:

  • Data gathers our collective wisdom as it travels through the organization. We can all see and benefit from multiple brains and perspectives working on the same challenge.
  • Meetings will always be on-topic and current. Participants will have the benefits of the trends, up to this second, that are related to the issue. If the issue has passed, your time can be spent elsewhere.
  • Organizations can collaborate in different ways – performance meetings may even become obsolete, since the discovery we are hoping for in the meeting can happen more effectively, and without waiting for a meeting.

OKRs Rock!

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are the emerging best-practice is cascading strategy down to the team and individual level. (They are the logical progression of Drucker’s MBOs (Management By Objectives) and Drs. Kaplan & Norton’s Balanced Scorecard).

We now have the near-real-time data and computing power to process it, allowing everyone to make strategy part of their everyday job. Everyone can see the impact of their performance in their area, team, department, and organization.

To make this happen, we need to have access to our personal performance in real-time. Think of this as your daily performance review.

Scary, right? But, picture it this way: you no longer need to have an annual performance review. At the end of every day, week, month and quarter, you (and everyone else) will know what you have contributed to success. You will know what the barriers are to achieving a new high-score. And can work day-to-day to master your job.

You will begin to manage up, instead of waiting to be managed down-to.

OKRs provide you with:

  • A clear understanding of your purpose in the organization
  • On-going progress updates
  • The ability to see the impact of your decisions – enabling better empowerment and autonomy
  • A backbone for risk-free performance conversations

Small data gets big

As we cascade strategy down to teams and individuals, you can put the data in all your surrounding processes into context. This localized data is called “small data."

Small data is data that is 'small' enough for human comprehension. It is data in a volume and format that makes it accessible, informative, and actionable.

The term "big data" is about machines, while "small data" is about people. The only way to comprehend big data is to reduce the data into visually-appealing objects representing various aspects of large data sets such as histograms, charts, and scatter plots. Big data is all about finding correlations. Small data is all about finding the causation; the reason ‘why.’

Small data connects people with timely, meaningful insights (derived from big data and/or 'local' sources), organized and packaged – often visually – to be accessible, understandable, and actionable for everyday tasks.”

- Allen Bond

Within your part of the process, you will be able to see the things that are helping you and your team succeed and identify the things which are impeding you and the organization.

This means that your organization will be run by as many managers as you have employees and not just by the single brain of the CEO, or Executive Team.

What do you need to make this happen?

  • First, your organization’s strategy cascaded down to you and your team
  • The ability to see the impact of your decisions – enabling better empowerment and autonomy
  • A backbone for risk-free performance conversations

Small is big enough

Small companies will have easy access to the same powerful analysis tools that previously only large corporations could afford. The cloud and cloud applications democratizes computing power, data, and analysis.

The old success model based on economies of scale is being diluted by small company’s access to tools, competencies, and market access (through software like Shopify and Amazon), while leaving small organizations with multiple bonuses:

  • They get the analysis power of large companies
  • The agility of small companies. This, in turn, allows for new growth strategies – allowing for the rapid spawning of small “viral” firms to set-up and thrive and it provides them with the analysis that investors crave
  • Put data into strategic context so that small-data can dominate your business, and
  • all of this leads to the quick assessment and responses to the current turbulent business environment

Real-time data

Imagine trying to drive your car but only being able to see out the windshield once a month. That’s how we run our businesses. But just like driving, the business needs to make decisions in real time. Wouldn’t it be clever to give business access to near-real-time data?

Organizations that have access to more timely data can make more timely decisions. Not only that, but our experience indicates that organizations that have more timely data quickly recognize the need to make their organizations more agile to both understand and react to business environment changes faster and faster.

To make real-time datamore powerful to your organization, you have to execute on the preceding four actions:

  • Enable visualizations that report current data (and commentary) as they travel across email, PowerPoint, calendars and documents
  • Use team and individual Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to force the structured thinking and allow everyone to see their contribution to success
  • Put data into strategic context so that small-data can dominate your business, and
  • Take advantage of cloud-based power-tools that allow your small business to access the data power of large organizations while leveraging the agility of being a small organization.

Let's get rolling...

All these things are available now – let’s launch into 2019 with this new power to execute.

About Pm2

Brett is an Executive Partner at Pm2 (Performance Measurement & Management) an international consulting firm specializing in the development and implementation of strategic dashboards and scorecards. The frameworks they use includes OKRs (Objective and Key Results), Balanced Scorecard, 4DX (Four Disciplines of Execution) Lean, Six-Sigma, etc. Their work has been profiled in Harvard Business Review, Fortune and Forbes magazines as well as countless business books and periodicals. We are pleased to have this thought leader as an active contributor to our blog posts.

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