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5 Observations on Being Innovative (at an organizational level)

A typical organizational analysis entails observing the organization from the strategic, political and cultural lenses encompassing people, processes and technologies. While these lenses are useful in understanding the workings of an organization, they are not sufficient for an organization to be innovative. To be innovative, organizations need to have a constant flow of ideas that are generated, captured and then shared smoothly up/down and horizontally across the organization.  These ideas can potentially turn into products and/or services and thus propel the organization forward and keep them ahead of the competition.

In this blog post, I will focus on how to generate ideas for your organization and introduce a term I coined the Innovation Diversity Lens. The basis of this lens emerges from the fact that given the right environment, diversity of people and ideas can lead to innovation. So how does an organization generate ideas? Well, I am glad you asked.  According to my current view of the world, idea generation happens in the following 5 ways:

  1. By tapping into the innovation capabilities within the organization through internal customers. Typically people who are closest to the work can tell you what is not efficient and how it can be improved. Taking this information from multiple people and the co-dependencies of processes you can have a holistic idea of what can happen.
  2. By becoming a catalyst for innovation for external customers. Think about how new versions of the software are released typically based upon new requirements from the customers.
  3. Keeping abreast of innovation within your industry.
  4. Keeping abreast of innovation outside your industry through cross-pollination of ideas. Think about how concepts of Project Management emerged from construction and are now used in software development.
  5. Integration, customization, and combination of the above.
Idea Generation Map Idea Generation Map

 

Can the IT Team do Digital Transformation?

Today’s competitive business landscape requires that you have a solid understanding of what technology is doing and what it can do for your organization. This understanding of technology can make the difference between surviving and thriving. Organizations that merely want to survive will eventually be replaced. Organizations that want to thrive will need to do Digital Transformation. But, if someone convinced you that Digital Transformation is only about technology then you will struggle with it as stated in Business Agility and Digital Transformation, 5 Questions to Ask About Your Digital Transformation, and 5 Myths About Digital Transformation.

Digital Transformation requires the entire organization to have a culture that motivates and incentivizes to improve things. Since most functional departments operate in silos, motivations and incentives are limited to functional departments and not to the entire organization. What this means is that even before you begin your Digital Transformation journies, you should have a good understanding of what roadblocks these silos create and how you can move beyond them. While there are many ways to assess your organization’s readiness, today I am going to use the SWOT Analysis combined with SPICE to identify gaps and use it as a communications tool to address those gaps.

What is the SWOT Analysis?

The SWOT Analysis is a way for organizations to understand their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats when it comes to operations and future planning. Strengths and Weaknesses look at the organization internally for self-assessment while the Opportunities and Threats look outside the organization.

What is the SPICE Framework?

SPICE is a way for organizations to understand its Strategy, Politics, Innovation, Culture, and Execution of today and tomorrow. SPICE looks at the Who, What, Where, When, Why for People, Processes, Products, Services, and Technologies.

Combining SPICE and SWOT

By combining SPICE and SWOT, we can get a deeper understanding of what is needed at organizations to move the needle. We can this SPICE-SWOT. Here’s how it works and specifically what questions you can ask:

Strategy

Organizations develop strategies for short-term and long-term. The strategy development process can be either exclusive or inclusive. In most organizations, we have an exclusive strategy development process that involves a few key executives such as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and the Chief Operations Officer (COO). In some organizations, an inclusive strategy development process will involve executives, middle management, and front-line employees. Another way of developing an organization’s strategy is by outsourcing it to outside consulting firms. Each of the strategy development processes has its pros and cons.

Ideally, your organization’s strategy development process should have manual and digital feedbacks loops going from the front-line employees all the way to the executives and must include Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), Chief Human Resources Manager (CHRM), Chief Security Officer (CSO) and Chief Data Officer (CDO). If your organization is going to use a consulting firm then the consulting firm must:

  • Take feedback from all stakeholders including customers, partners, and vendors
  • Look at industry trends and cross-industry pollination opportunities
  • Not develop pie-in-the-sky ideas that are not implementable
  • Not merely be a mouthpiece for the CEO or the Board of Directors

Your organization’s strategy should look at how your organization can grow and how organizational operations can be improved. With this in mind, let’s ask a few questions:

Your organization’s strategy should look at how your organization can grow and how organizational operations can be improved. With this in mind, let’s ask a few questions:

  • Strategic Strengths
    • Who is able to develop a strategy and execute it?
    • What products and/or services provide you the tools to create effective strategy?
    • Where do your products and/or services specifically help in reaching strategic goals?
    • When conditions change, how quickly can your strategy adapt?
    • Why no one can match your strategy and strategy development processes?
  • Strategic Weaknesses
    • Who is always slacking on executing your strategy?
    • What products and/services do not result in effective strategy?
    • Where do your products and/or services specifically harm in reaching strategic goals?
    • When conditions change, how often do you ignore them?
    • Why others can match your strategy and strategy development processes?
  • Strategic Opportunities
    • Who can you partner with that understands and helps your strategy?
    • What products and/or services you forsee that can help create effective strategy?
    • Where do your products and/or services can benefit other organization’s in their strategy?
    • When conditions change, who have you partnered up that can help you navigate them?
    • Why no one can match your partner’s strategy and strategy development processes?
  • Strategic Threats
    • Who have you partnered up with that does not care about your strategy?
    • What products and/or services from your partners can harm your strategy?
    • Where do your products and/or services can hamper another organization’s strategy?
    • When conditions change, who have you partnered up that are oblivious to it?
    • Why anyone can match your partner’s strategy and strategy develop processes?

Politics

Wherever there are humans, there is politics. Sometimes this politics is visible and sometimes it is hidden but it is still there. In organizations, politics plays a key role in determining who gets promoted, what happens in governance boards, what vendors should be trusted, what kind of assistance should be provided, whose ideas are listened to, and who gets to give requirements to create something new for the organization.

Ideally, your organization’s politics should be addressed head-on by creating an open-door policy, ability to submit ideas/feedback/concerns anonymously both manually and digitally, and training for employees to understand how their own biases can affect the organization at various levels. Politics does not have to be a dirty work in your organization. With this in mind, let’s ask a few questions:

  • Political Strengths
    • Who are the go-to people at front-line, middle management and executive levels?
    • What products and/or services came about due to political influence and proved to be a strength?
    • Where did political influence change the culture for the better?
    • When does your internal politics keeps you focused on the future?
    • Why your orgnizational politics is a positive thing for the organization?
  • Political Weaknesses
    • Who are the people that play bad politics at front-line, middle management and executive levels?
    • What products and/or services came about due to political influence and proved to be a weakness?
    • Where did political influence change the culture for the worse?
    • When does you internal politics distracts from what you can achieve in the future?
    • Why your orgnizational politics is a negative thing for the organization?
  • Political Opportunities
    • Who are your go-to partners that are influencing various industries which will provide opportunities for you?
    • What products and/or services that can come about due to political influence?
    • Where can you use your political influence to make your customers, partners, vendors go a certain direction?
    • When does you competitor’s political influence threaten their own existence?
    • Why your political influence matters to others?
  • Political Threats
    • Who you did not partner up with who politcal influence
    • What products and/or services might never be developed due to political influence?
    • Where can your competitors’ use of political influence make your customers, partners, vendors go a certain direction?
    • When does your competitor’s political influence threaten your existence?
    • Why you have no politcal influence?

Innovation

Innovation is the lifeblood of your organization. It energizes or demoralizes your organization. It can positively affect your organization or it can make it hollow. There are many levels of innovation that come from front-line employees (e.g., doing some tasks more efficiently), middle-management (e.g., becoming curators of innovative ideas and creating synergies) to executive management (e.g., ability to extrapolate and connect the dots at the highest levels). Innovation does not have to be disruptive, it can be incremental but it needs to happen and your organization should have a mindset to think about constantly. With this in mind, let’s ask a few questions:

  • Innovation Strengths
    • Who in your organization is the most innovative at the front-line, middle management, and executive levels?
    • What products and/or services do you provide that no one can match?
    • Where does innovation take place in your organization?
    • When you have problems with products and/or services, how quickly do you fix them?
    • Why do you think you can maintain a competitive advantage?
  • Innovation Weaknesses
    • Who in your organization is the least innovative at the front-line, middle management, and executive levels?
    • What products and/or services do you provide that everyone can as well?
    • Where does innovation create a bottleneck in your organization?
    • When you have problems with products and/or services, how slowly do you fix them?
    • Why do you think you will lose a competitive advantage?
  • Innovation Opportunities
    • Who can you partner with inside and/or outside your industry to be innovative?
    • What products and/or services can benefit your organization in the future?
    • Where are the next products and/or services coming from that you can take advantage of?
    • When do you think it would the right time to launch new products and/or services?
    • Why do you think you are better positioned to take advantage of new products and/or services?
  • Innovation Threats
    • Who might have been a good partner but now it is too late?
    • What products and/or services can harm your organization in the future?
    • Where are the next products and/or services coming from that might leave you behind?
    • When was the right time to launch new products and/or services?
    • Why do you think your competitor is better positioned to take advantage of new products and/or services?

Culture

Your culture determines your future. With this in mind, let’s ask a few questions:

  • Cultural Strengths
    • Who in your organization represents what your organization stands for at the front-line, middle management, and executive levels?
    • What products and/or services that you provide to others that you use yourself?
    • Where does your culture compliment your business objectives?
    • When someone portrays complacent culture, how quickly do you fix it?
    • Why is your culture better?
  • Cultural Weaknesses
    • Who in your organization takes your culture for granted at the front-line, middle management, and executive levels?
    • What products and/or services that you provide to others but never use yourself?
    • Where is your culture an obstacle to your business objectives?
    • When someone portrays great initiative, how often do you ignore it?
    • Why is your culture worse?
  • Cultural Opportunities
    • Who can you partner with that represents your cultural values?
    • What products and/or services that you provide can enhance another organization’s culture?
    • Where can your culture open up partnerships that might not seem obvious?
    • When can your cultural values provide societal benefits?
    • Why your culture is better in bringing societal change?
  • Cultural Threats
    • Who should your organization avoid partnering up that eats away at your culture?
    • What products and/or services can make your culture useless?
    • Where can your culture destroy potential long-term partnerships?
    • When can your cultural values negatively affect society?
    • Why a competitors’ culture might win over yours?

Execution

The ability to bring together all the capabilities of your organization to achieve business objectives is execution. Execution is hard since it requires people, products, processes, services and technologies have to be in-sync. Execution creates rythem in the organization and eventually momentum. But we always have to take time to reassess this momentum and see of the orginial underlying assumptions and conditions for execution have changed. Even today there is a big gap between what the organization whats strategically and what it is able to achieve operationally. With this in mind, let’s ask the following questions:

  • Execution Strengths
    • Who is incentivized at the front-line, middle management, and executive levels to produce a positive return-on-investment?
    • What products and/or services help you execute your business objectives?
    • Where is the sweet spot when business objectives meet execution?
    • When is your execution is effective and efficient?
    • Why no one can copy your execution?
  • Execution Weaknesses
    • Who is disincentivized at the front-line, middle management, and executive levels to produce a positive return-on-investment?
    • What products and/or services create obastacles in executing your business objectives?
    • Where do your business objectives and execution have gaps?
    • When is your execution incompetent and wasteful?
    • Why your execution can be easily copied?
  • Execution Opportunities
    • Who is incentivized at your partners to help you executive positively?
    • What products and/or services you foresee that can increase your execution speed?
    • Where can your products and/or service increase your customer’s execution speed?
    • When can your execution speed provide benefit to your partners?
    • Why your execution speed creates opportunity beyond your industry?
  • Execution Threats
    • What partners can derail your execution speed and accuracy?
    • What products and/or services you forsee that can decrease your execution speed?
    • Where do your products and/or services decrease your customer’s execution speed?
    • When can your execution speed harm your partners?
    • Why your execution speed and accuracy implode your industry?

Phew! Now that we have asked our 100 questions. Let’s get back to the question, Can the Information Technology (IT) Team do Digital Transformation. If it is not evident by now, the IT team is just one part of the entire organization. In order to do Digital Transformation, you need to make changes at all levels of the organizations. These changes are not the responsibility of the IT team only but in fact these changes occur by collaboration of IT with Accounting, Administration, Business Development, Customer Service, Finance, Human Resources, Management, Manufacturing, Marketing, Operations, Production, Research and Development, Sales and others.

Use the SPICE-SWOT to identify gaps and as a communications tool to address those gaps. For Digital Transformation, do SPICE-SWOT two times:

  1. IT team should self-assess their current capabilities to do Digital Transformation
  2. Non-IT teams should self-assess their own readiness to contribute to Digital Transformation

5 Questions to Ask About Cloud

Gartner describes Cloud (Computing) as “a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service using Internet technologies.” While the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), defines Cloud Computing as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

In layman terms, Cloud (computing) is a way for people to use hardware, software, and data through the Internet.

Basically, what this means is that instead of using their own devices (e.g., computers, mobile devices, etc.), we use our own device to access a cloud provider’s services. Some examples of cloud computing services used by consumers include Gmail, Facebook, and Amazon, etc. For organizations, ‘going to the Cloud’ can mean different things depending upon the business models and the main objectives to be achieved.

Within an organization, the Information Technology (IT) is responsible for all technology-related hardware, software, data, services, and security across all departments (e.g., accounting, administration, business development, customer service, finance, human resources, management, manufacturing, marketing, operations, production, R&D, sales, etc.) This is a huge undertaking especially when we consider that different departments within an organization can have different needs and those needs change can change rapidly based on consumer behaviors, market conditions, regulatory requirements, and other changes. This implies that rapid changes require organizations to move fast and adapt. This is where the IT department can help or become an obstacle.

The IT department responds to changing organizational needs by gathering relevant requirements from other departments to develop IT systems. These IT systems can be custom-built or bought from technology vendors or a combination. The hosting, development, maintenance, and update of these IT systems typically become the responsibility of the IT department. The speed at which these IT systems are deployed and respond can have a direct effect on the organization. For example, an IT system that is only capable of handling 2000 simultaneous users will crash if 30,000 simultaneous users accessed it. What to do? This is one example among many where Cloud Computing shines.

Generally speaking, cloud services provided by cloud service providers can be stacked into Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Additionally, Cloud can be private – where it is hosted on an organization’s data center, public – where it is hosted on a cloud vendor’s data center or hybrid.

To begin your Cloud journey, here are some questions to ask:

 

Today Tomorrow
Who is going to use Cloud services? Who should be using Cloud services?
What organizational departments provide the Cloud requirements? What organizational departments should provide the Cloud requirements?
Where is the biggest Return on Investment (ROI) when it comes to going to the Cloud? Where should be the biggest Return on Investment (ROI) when it comes to going to the Cloud?
When are organizational weaknesses identified? When should organizational weaknesses be identified?
Why is the Cloud for you? Why should the Cloud be for you?

If the organization is going to the Cloud to provide software (cloud) services to consumers then some of the things they have to figure out how to make them easy to use and always available. If the organization is going to the Cloud to improve IT operations then they have to identify efficiencies, be specific in terms of time and costs, figure out vendor lockdowns, and data hosting considerations. Sometimes organizations want to tackle both the internal improvements and consumer-focused services which can add more complexity to what going to the Cloud could mean for them. In certain respects, Cloud computing is about being efficient but it is more about being flexible enough to respond to changes quickly.

To be clear, going to the Cloud is not for every organization but if proper due diligence is done then it is beneficial for most organizations.

5 Questions to Ask About Information Technology (IT)

Any organization of any size from governments, military, law enforcement to academia and private sectors use Information Technology (IT) directly and/or indirectly. In today’s connected and competitive world where efficiency and effectiveness are highly valued, IT has become the cornerstone for most organizations to survive and thrive. But what is IT, really?

In most organizations, there is an Information Technology (IT) Department which refers to a group of individuals who are responsible for creating, managing, securing, maintaining and retiring systems, technologies, and networks that are used across the organization. The IT Department is led by the Chief Information Officer (CIO) who typically reports to the Chief Finance Officer (CFO). The most common type of interaction that employees have with the IT Department is the IT Help Desk. System failures and security threats can both affect an organization’s bottom line which the IT Department is responsible for. Whenever the IT Department does a project for any functional unit/team outside of IT, they call that functional unit/team the Business (e.g., Accounting, Administration, Business Development, External Customer Service,  Finance, Human Resources (HR), Management, Manufacturing, Marketing, Operations, Production, Research & Development (R&D) and Sales, etc.).

From an employee (aka end-user) standpoint, the IT Department is considered someone that troubleshoots internet connections, emails, websites, printers, computers, laptops, and mobile, etc. From an organizational (enterprise) standpoint, the IT Department provides advice on how various technologies can be leveraged, improve customer services, protect against cybersecurity threats, development/management/disposal of databases, software development, outsourcing/vendor management, telecommunications, acquiring/keeping/transporting data and maintaining organizational networks, etc.

Since systems are used in every functional unit/team, the responsibilities of the IT Department also cut across every functional unit/team providing enablement through technologies. Despite these responsibilities, over the years, there has been a disconnect between Business and IT, based on some realities and some perceptions. In fact, Business-IT Alignment is a major concern for most organizations today. How did organizations came to this point is dependent on many factors but the most evident ones are:

  1. Leadership
  2. Miscommunications
  3. Extrapolation

Leadership

It requires leadership both at the Business-side and IT-side to move the entire organization in the right direction. The problem arises when the Business-side considers IT as a cost center rather than an enabler for organizational improvements. The CIO reporting structure and the lack of trust have attributed to this disconnect.

On the IT-side, CIOs still struggle to get their seat at the (executive) table which causes organizational strategies to be developed without IT resulting in misalignment. On the Business-side, IT is considered only order-takers and their inputs are not valued. While it is true that IT are implementors but it is also true that if you want to change, transform and disrupt aspects of the organization and/or industries you need to develop a strategy with forward-looking IT Departments. It should also be noted that leadership is not only a title/position but a cultural mindset that requires both the Business-side and IT-side to display it. 

Miscommunications

It is important to have effective communications at all levels (executive, middle management and front-line employee) that leave no room for misinterpretations. Unfortunately, by the time information is relayed from the Business-side to the IT-side, things/requirements/justifications might have changed. Reality is that whenever IT-side takes on a Business-side project, a system needs to be created which does not happen from a push of a magic button. Another issue is jargon when both Business-side and IT-side use their own acronyms, understanding and function-specific language which results in things getting lost in translation. (Mis)communication is a two-way street. 

Extrapolation

If we don’t know what others can do then we won’t know what they can help us with. Business-side is unaware of all IT capabilities. IT-side is unaware of all Business roadblocks. By being not on the same page, Business-side and IT-side stay in their silos and are unable to see beyond their own functional boundaries. One way to address this is to have cross-functional teams from both Business-side and IT-side that meet often to discuss and solve how things can be improved. Appropriate incentives at all levels (executive, middle management and front-line employee) should be provided to do this. 

As you can see from the above concerns, organizations cannot move forward if the left-hand does not know what the right hand is doing and they can collaborate with each other. To get the ball rolling at least start by thinking holistically and asking the following questions:

Today Tomorrow

Who is part of the Business-IT cross-functional team?

Who should be part of the Business-IT cross-functional team?

What functional areas are responsible for organizational improvements?

What functional areas should be responsible for organizational improvements?

Where is the biggest Return on Investment (ROI) when it comes to organizational improvements?

Where should be the biggest Return on Investment (ROI) when it comes to organizational improvements?

When are organizational roadblocks identified?When should organizational roadblocks be identified?
Why is IT important?Why should IT be important?

 

5 Questions to Ask When Working From Home (WFH)

In my previous post, Can Technology Help During a Pandemic?, I talked about the importance of creating a culture of trust as the central pillar both at the employee-side and at the organization-side when it comes to working from home. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe, it has become abundantly clear that having employees work from home is not a luxury but a necessity.

During this time, it is incumbent upon organizations to understand that business processesbusiness continuity, and information security are a priority for the entire organization. This recognition of priority is both refreshing and stressful at the same time. It is refreshing because it is no longer just IT’s job to do these but it has become an effort for the entire organization as it should be. It is stressful because there is a learning curve that requires time, patience and adjustment.

In regards to Business Processes,

  1. Organizations should not assume that working from home is business as usual. It is not. In fact, this is the opportune time to see which business processes and IT processes were overkill. It is also the time to reduce and eliminate steps in the business processes and IT processes that are redundant, obsolete and wasteful. One way to do this is to map all the processes that occur in your organization and link them directly to organizational objectives with metrics.
  2. Organizations need to understand which of their business processes and IT processes are dependent directly and indirectly on vendors. One way to do this is to imagine what would happen if one or all of their vendors went out of business. What would the organization do if this happens, how fast organizations can recover from it, what would be budget for this, etc?
  3. It should be noted that the business processes and IT processes that are documented might not even be followed. This would also mean that some of these would be ad-hoc and be highly dependent upon only the people who knew them in their heads.

In regards to Business Continuity,

  1. Organizations should not assume that just because they have it on paper that it is implementable. This is where organizations that planned, tested and improved would outshine others. It should also be noted that IT plans are not to make IT people look smart, but in fact, are needed and thus appropriate budgets should be available to do this.
  2. Organizations need to see themselves as holistic entities with multiple moving parts and each part needs attention. Organizations need to be proactive and be prepared to start from scratch. Optimize, automate, adjust and repeat.

In regards to Information Security,

  1. Organizations should not assume that employees’ home/personal computers/devices have the same level of security protections as work computers/devices. At home, there are multiple points of vulnerabilities from weak wi-fi and computers/devices passwords to older versions of software, lack of antivirus and lack of antimalware. One way to address this would be to provide every employee with computers/devices from work that adheres to security guidelines. Another way would be to reimburse employees for purchase/update of software, antivirus and antimalware. The physical security of computers/devices also needs to be addressed.
  2. Organizations need to outsource to keep up with the security demands of VPN and Cloud but they also need to have their due diligence tougher and faster. One way to do this is to have a preselected vendor list. Another way is to have references from the past 5 years of potential vendors directly from their clients and learn what did the potential vendors learned from their mistakes.
  3. Security training should be considered future-proofing rather than a time-sucking activity. Also, any organizational leaders that think security is an add-on after the fact have already missed the boat and have opened their entire organization for trouble.

Now, that we have a clear view of what needs to happen during and after this global pandemic, organizations need to ask the following questions when their employees are working from home.

Today Tomorrow
Who are the most important front-line employees of your organization? Who should be the most important front-line employees of your organization?
What areas are being addressed when it comes to working from home? What areas should be addressed when it comes to working from home?
Where is your data and processes being captured, stored and retrieved? Where should your data and processes be captured, stored and retrieved?
When do data and processes become vulnerable? When should data and processes become vulnerable?
Why working from home is important? Why working from home should be important?

5 Questions to Ask About Data Collection

Data, data, data. Every organization today, is collecting data in one way or another. Due to the declining cost of data storage, data collection has become an obsession for most organizations. This data can come from employees, customers, suppliers, governments and many other sources. The basic premise behind collecting all this data is that it can be used to make informed decisions. But is it?

Informed decision-making should be based on sound data which requires data to be collected in a way that does not portray a false landscape. In other words, if the way data collection methodology is incorrect then the decisions made on that data will also be incorrect. Whenever we do data collection, there are a couple of things we should consider:

  1. Is the data coming from a primary source or a secondary source?
  2. Is the data coming from an individual or an organization?
  3. Is the data coming from conducting a survey?
  4. Is the data coming from conducting a study?
  5. Is the data coming from ongoing business activities?

Sometimes comprehensive data collection is time-consuming, costly, cumbersome and impractical. Considering these restrictions, we have to collect sample data and have to be cognizant that if this data can or can’t be generalized for decision-making. The wrong generalization of data from a small data sample can result in errors that might not be evident to the people who are making decisions on this data. 

Let’s assume that you have been given the task of collecting data that can help the organization in Business-IT Alignment. For this, you conduct a survey in your organization to get a feel of what is going on. Your goal is to collect all this survey data, make sense of it and present it to the executives so they can make decisions.  Here are the steps you take:

Step 1: Create a survey to collect data

Step 2: Reach out to relevant respondents

Step 3: Understand what the data is saying

On the surface, the above steps sound good. But here are the problems with each of them. 

In step 1, when you are creating the survey, you can run into issues when:

  • You ask leading questions that direct the survey into a certain direction
  • The tone and mannerism of the survey/surveyor can make respondents uncomfortable
  • A standard question across various respondents can be easily compared but based on the context the answer may differ drastically

In step 2, who you think the respondents are can affect the survey when:

  • You only ask a subset of the respondents but you are unaware it was the wrong subset
  • Respondents provide no answers
  • Respondents don’t have access to the survey
  • Respondents provide false information

In step 3, your tallying and interpreting the data can have issues when:

  • Your personal biases (we all have them) influence your interpretation
  • Others’ personal biases influence your interpretation

As you can see from the above errors, you have to be careful in data collection so it reveals the truth rather than a skewed version of a hypothetical scenario. The basics start by asking the following questions even before you start creating the survey for data collection:

Today Tomorrow

Who is going to respond?

IT (Help Desk, Software Developers, Management, Database Developers, Network Support, Cybersecurity, etc.) 

vs.

Business (Accounting, Sales & Marketing, Finance, HR, Operations, Management, Customer Service, etc.) 

Who should respond?

IT (Help Desk, Software Developers, Management, Database Developers, Network Support, Cybersecurity, etc.)

vs.

Business (Accounting, Sales & Marketing, Finance, HR, Operations, Management, Customer Service, etc.) 

What areas are covered?

Person-to-person interaction

vs.

Organization-wide capabilities

What areas should be covered?

Person-to-person interaction

vs.

Organization-wide capabilities

Where do you think is the organizational misalignment?

Offline

vs.

Online

Where should be the organizational misalignment?

Offline

vs.

Online

When did organizational-misalignment appear and reported?When should organizational-misalignment be identified and reported?
Why is the data being collected?Why should the data be collected?

 

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