Sharing My Truth & An Invitation To Participate In Leading-Edge Innovation Research

Have you ever felt like you had to hide part of yourself to survive in the corporate world? For the last 20 years, I’ve built my career on the study and practice of data mining and business intelligence. I shared many practical solutions in my first book, Data Mining Cookbook (Wiley 2001). But my real passion has always been the study and practice of human intelligence. And for a long time, I felt that I had to keep that passion separate from my ‘real’ work. But a few years ago, I began to see a relationship between the level of human development within an organization and the successful use business intelligence. I shared this research in my second book, Business Intelligence Success Factors (Wiley/SAS 2009). Now I’m discovering that for these concepts to be really useful, they need some structure. So I’m developing a model that tracks the evolution of business intelligence along with human intelligence on an organizational level.

So here’s the deal… I’d like you to participate in a research project that is inspired by the following statistic: According to Gartner, 70% to 80% of corporate business intelligence projects fail due to poor communication http://tinyurl.com/793ehvh . Given the high dollar value of these projects, even a partial failure can be catastrophic to the bottom line. And the failure isn’t due to faulty business intelligence. It’s due to faulty human intelligence!
To understand the connection, let’s consider why Business Intelligence is so critical and what is required for success. Hint: It’s all about Innovation!

surveyIn today’s high-tech, global economy, most linear processes can be automated or outsourced. This really levels the playing field for many large organizations. To remain competitive, companies must continually reinvent themselves. Therefore, innovation is becoming the main differentiator and key driver of success.

For a large company to be truly successful, innovation must be embedded in the systems, processes, and organizational culture. This requires a high level of agility and adaptability which is built upon competence in two main areas: business intelligence and human intelligence.

Business Intelligence is generally understood to be a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information (Wikipedia).

Human Intelligence is more subjective and open to interpretation. For this research, I am defining it as the levels of emotional and social competency of the employees of an organization with a special emphasis on the leadership team. It is the human intelligence that translates the data into actionable business knowledge which leads to better decisions and smarter actions. To really be successful, business intelligence and human intelligence must evolve simultaneously.

The goal of the survey is to understand and measure the alignment between the level of business intelligence and the level of human intelligence and to determine to what degree this alignment is correlated with the success of the organization. To test my thesis, I’ve created a survey that explores multiple aspects of the processes, culture, and performance of a typical mid-size to large organization.

If you are an employee of a mid-size to large organization or if you are an independent consultant that works with large organizations, your participation is invaluable and sincerely appreciated. If you are a consultant, please feel free to answer the questions as if you were holding a position with one of your client organizations.

The survey takes 5-10 minutes. All responses remain anonymous. Each participant will receive a summary of the results. Please feel free to forward this to others as you deem appropriate. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/OAQSurvey

13 Behaviors of Business Success

It takes twenty years to build your reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
—Warren Buffett, Chairman & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

As Covey describes it, the 13 behaviors reflect both character and competence. This is valuable to understand because “the quickest way to decrease trust is to violate a behavior of character, while the quickest way to increase trust is to demonstrate a behavior of competence.”

Behavior #1: Talk Straight
What we say is true and forthcoming—not just technically correct. —Dell Inc.’s Code of Conduct  Straight talk is really about honesty. The ability and integrity to speak the truth with great clarity is essential for success today. Too much is happening too fast to be delayed by confusion or deception. Strong leadership is necessary to create a culture of trust. Straight talk from top management is essential for success.

Behavior #2: Demonstrate Respect

I try to treat people as human beings….If they know you care, it brings out the best in them.
—Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman, The Virgin Group
Demonstrating respect builds trust on all levels. Expansion into global markets brings exposure to new customs and manners that need to be understood and integrated. This creates the space for unparalleled innovation and collaboration.

Behavior #3: Create Transparency

Creating transparency involves telling the truth in a way that can be verified. This means not hiding mistakes and information. Leaders who come from a place of authenticity and transparency are rewarded with loyalty and trust.

Behavior #4: Right Wrongs

To be an effective leader, one must practice humility. Mistakes are expected in a dynamic, innovative company. And no one is immune from them. To admit mistakes and make restitution, when necessary, is a sign of great integrity.

Behavior #5: Show Loyalty

To retain those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent.—Steven M. R. Covey
To demonstrate and encourage loyalty, it is important to acknowledge the contributions of others and offer praise freely. Leaders who speak about people as though they were present and show respect for their privacy gain the trust of those who are present.

Behavior #6: Deliver Results

We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done. —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
As a full participant in any organization, it is crucial to establish a track record of delivering results. However, it is also important to know what to deliver. This involves understanding how results will be implemented and making sure the results have value to the organization.
In a dynamic organization, individuals enjoy a lot more autonomy. Proactive behavior invigorates the system and moves the organization forward. It is good to underpromise and overdeliver.

Behavior #7: Get Better

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.—Alvin Toffler, American writer and futurist
A practice of continual learning is essential for the growth of both the organization and the individual. Improving skills and knowledge in your current area of expertise as well as learning through collaboration with other areas leads to exponential growth. Developing formal and informal feedback systems also supports learning.

Behavior #8: Confront Reality

Leaders need to be more candid with those they purport to lead. Sharing good news is easy. When it comes to the more troublesome negative news, be candid and take responsibility. Don’t withhold unpleasant possibilities and don’t pass off bad news to subordinates to deliver. Level with employees about problems in a timely fashion.—Jon Huntsman, chairman, Huntsman Chemical
When times are tough, confronting reality requires obligated courage. True leaders share the truth at all times and address the difficult issues directly.

Behavior #9: Clarify Expectations

When communicating within an organization, clarity of word and deed is very powerful. Effective communication and feedback are essential for ensuring that everyone understands what is expected. It is dangerous to assume otherwise.

Behavior #10: Practice AccountabilityBusiness success

Personal accountability fuels trust and mobilizes an organization for growth. Leaders must set the standard by holding themselves accountable. Then they are in integrity and can hold others accountable. Avoid blaming others when things go wrong.

Behavior #11: Listen First
I have found that the two best qualities a CEO can have are the ability to listen and to assume the best motives in others.—Jack M. Greenberg, chairman and CEO, McDonald’s
As discussed Chapter 3, truly listening is an art that takes intention and effort. But the value of this practice is significant. To understand someone, it is necessary to listen with your eyes, ears, and heart. Seek to learn what is important to others. This is the first step toward accessing the plethora of untapped wisdom in organizations.

Behavior #12: Keep Commitments
Stand up for what’s right, in small matters and large ones, and always do what you promise.
—Reuben Mark, chairman and CEO, Colgate-Palmolive
Covey calls this the “Big Kahuna” of all behaviors. It is a fundamental building block of trust and is essential for effective collaboration.
Behavior #13: Extend Trust
Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Great leaders demonstrate a propensity to trust. When members of an organization extend trust to others, it fosters a collaborative environment. Learn from those who break the bond of trust.

Leadership Skills: Four Phases of Appreciative Inquiry

By asking positive questions, members of the organization begin to build a collective vision of what is possible. The future is designed through a self-organizing process that solicits the best from every member of the organization. The process generally consists of four phases.

appreciative inquiry
Discovery Phase

The discovery phase is based on the theory that “human systems are drawn towards their deepest and most frequent explorations.” This phase is characterized by interviews that are designed to determine the optimal capacity of the organization. In contrast to many discovery interviews that bring in outside consultants to uncover problems, the discovery phase is usually done in house with most members of the organization participating. It really becomes a “system-wide analysis of the positive core by its members.” As members of the organization are exposed to the possibilities expressed by other members, their level of appreciation and hope increases. The result is the discovery of themes and patterns.

Dream Phase

The dream phase guides participants into a transformational state by asking them to imagine what is possible for the organization. By tapping into the creative energy of the group, an imaginary future emerges for the organization. The dream usually contains “three elements: a vision of a better world, a powerful purpose, and a compelling statement of strategic intent.” As a result, participants feel a deeper connection and sense of shared purpose for their organization.

Design Phase

The power of the dream fuels the design phase. In a typical change process, the directive is top down and often met with great resistance. The design and strategy necessary to bring the dream into reality emerges out of the new system of cooperation, mutual respect, and shared vision. In most cases, participants enter the design phase with a desire to change.

Destiny Phase

Initially, the fourth phase was known as delivery because it was considered a more traditional stage of planning and implementation. However, after several years of working with the process, practitioners discovered that it felt more like a major transformation. Participants were realizing that their interpretation of the world has an effect on the process. As discussed in Chapter 2, their intention was creating their reality. So rather than focusing on planning and implementation, practitioners just let the participants guide the process. They completely gave up control. What seemed like a recipe for chaos turned into a perfect container for dynamic transformation and organization. Cooperrider and Whitney describe the Destiny Phase as follows:
Appreciative Inquiry accelerates the nonlinear interaction of organization breakthroughs, putting them together with historic, positive traditions and strengths to create a “convergence zone” facilitating the collective re-patterning of human systems. At some point, apparently minor positive discoveries connect in accelerating manner and quantum change, a jump from one state to the next that cannot be achieved through incremental change alone, becomes possible. What is needed, as the “Destiny Phase” of AI (Appreciated Inquiry) suggests, are the network-like structures that liberate not only the daily search into qualities and elements of an organization’s positive core but the establishment of a convergence zone for people to empower one another, to connect, cooperate, and co-create. Changes never thought possible are suddenly and democratically mobilized when people constructively appropriate the power of the positive core and…let go of accounts of the negative.
Appreciative Inquiry is successful because every member of the organization has an equal voice. This has the effect of breaking down common communication barriers and inspiring full participation. It does not require any exceptional knowledge. Each member is asked to share his or her view of past and present organizational competencies. “The focus is on achievements, assets, potentials, innovations, strengths, elevated thoughts, opportunities, benchmarks, high-point moments, lived values, traditions, strategic competencies, memorable stories, and expressions of wisdom.” The sharing of positive aspects brings the members into a sense of wholeness from which the insights, visions, and future dreams can emerge. Appreciative inquiry is based on the concept that every member has value in the process.