Everything You Know Is Wrong - and Other Perils of Life in the C-Suite1
As a top leader in your company, you pride yourself in seeing the big picture, in knowing more about where your company is - and where it’s going - than those farther down the corporate ladder. And while you may know more, that “more” may not be accurate.
Bill Franks has just written a terrific article, entitled appropriately enough, “You Can’t Handle the Truth.” It’s well worth reading in its entirety. Franks has pulled out some key pieces of information from a major study that seeks to understand how businesses that are successful at being data-driven differ from those that are not.2
- CEOs seem to have a rosier view of a company’s analytics efforts than its directors, managers, analysts, and data scientists.
- CEOs don’t have a clear view of risk.
- CEOs have a higher confidence in their companies’ analytics than is warranted.3
Why would these things be true? Franks’ summary is spot on:
|So why is there such a disconnect? … Big data initiatives fall down at the feet of biases, bad assumptions, and the failure, or fear, of letting the data speak for itself. As insights make their way up the corporate ladder, from the data scientist to the CEO, the truth in analytics is lost along the way. And this leads to a cumulative effect of unintended consequences.4
You see, employees are afraid of losing their jobs, and so they paint a rosier picture than is the case. And each level higher the reporting goes, the rosier it gets. And here’s where it gets interesting to me, and should be interesting to you: “the truth in analytics is lost along the way.”
Even if you don’t speak Geek, it’s imperative to grasp that the database that forms the heart of your business faces four threats:
- Bad guys outside who want to steal your data.
- Afraid guys inside who don’t want you to know how bad things are, and how they got that way.
- Built in or free “performance enhancement software” which not only masks problems, it creates them.
- A Tweet, an interview, a sale, or anything that captures the Zeitgeist and causes a run on your site.
What You Must Know
If you really want to know what’s going on in your company, you need an objective third party.
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