Resource Hub


Prove it. Show me the data!

Home Masthead Image

Prove it. Show me the data!

16 April 24

What is the one thing that I would change at every single place I’ve ever worked – become an evidence-based in your decision-making as the cornerstone of your culture. Be relentless. I’ve shared my experiences with this in the article below. What’s the one thing you would change?

Embrace an evidence-based decision-making culture or face irrelevancy.

When is the last time you can remember being held to account for each decision? Is this part of your funding process? How does information architecture and decision support augment or automate decision making? Are hunches openly challenged and is challenge rewarded? What do you think this says about your organisational culture and the future of your organisation?

Many years ago, now, I worked at GE Money. The work was lack-luster, but still to this day, it has been one of my favourite roles. I began working in the collections team while and then credit assessment for automotive and fleet finance while I was completing my Commerce degree. It wasn’t the work that made it brilliant, sure we had a vibrant, lively crew but it was the culture that made it a brilliant place to work. This was back when Jack Welch was still at the helm. I still remember how inspired I was after reading his books and being really impressed by his leadership style, which challenge was a big part of, which for anyone who knows me, is close to my heart.

This was back when Lean Six Sigma was very much still shiny and in vogue, the DMAIC process (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve & Control) was the first time I had come across a demand for transparency before improving processes and operations. At least once every week for years now, someone in my network has shared their frustration and sheer confusion around large legacy organisations being led by how things used to be, not how things are or need to be to remain in business. Customers and competitors don’t always care about the ‘good old days’ of how things used to be in terms of operations, they may with brand reputation but now expect amazing service with a high degree of automation and sophistication. I have spent many hours discussing this in different circles and always wondered if this was a leadership problem. I now firmly classify this as a cultural transformation opportunity.

Given a complex problem, I approach how I unpack, understand and solve it in a very different way to other people. I’m not a special snowflake – we all do. How we problem solve is such an individual thing, nearly like a fingerprint. It’s very much about our personal and professional experiences and what we have learned, as well how humble, inquisitive, willing and able we are to continue to learn. As a strategic management consultant performing enterprise/organisational design and enterprise/business architecture, it’s literally my job to consider and represent many different stakeholder views and viewpoints as an input into decision making and inform design using analysis. This requires coming up with alternate or contrary views related to problems and opportunities. Not all leaders and team members like this. This doesn’t mean it’s not required. Sometimes practitioners with these skill sets are viewed as troublemakers or obtuse, although this kind of mindset to challenge is a culture worth embracing.

At GE Money, through the adoption and operationalization of Lean Six Sigma as part of their culture, a ‘challenge mindset’ was not only encouraged but it was rewarded. You were actually measured and incentivised on your willingness and ability to challenge processes, interfaces, products and decisions as long as you were professional, respectful and you used evidence to back up what you were challenging.

I had openly contacted one of the senior leaders with statistics from when customers started informing us, they were not able to access a service which at the time was offshored. I began tracking this and recording the statistics over a period of time to show patterns. I was not shamed, nor punished, but congratulated and incentivized for helping improve a service which was failing our customers. Still to this day, I have not seen anything resembling this culture and I hope to help change that.

A leader recently asked me (in context of transformation) ‘what one thing would you change?’, a question I thought would stump me (to only choose one) and seemed loaded. I thought I would have a multitude of answers for this but replied very quickly and concisely. ‘Be relentlessly guided by evidence in how you lead and every decision you make’. In my experience, the temptation to bypass this by only looking to the past or a hunch explains so many issues I’ve seen at many different organisations over the years. Sacred projects which are not delivering value, toxic assets or resources, questionable acquisitions and investment decisions, a lack of innovation budget, operational inflexibility, slow to react to market changes, only promoting from within while devaluing external skills and experience, internal politics overruling the best outcomes for customers, shareholders, your supply chain, the market and your employees…. These are all issues I continue to hear about from my network our read about in articles about how businesses fail and how transformations don’t deliver the expected results.

Tenure and seniority do not negate evidence. An assumption of knowing customers does not replace engaging with them. The return on investment through becoming a data-driven organization may be challenging to articulate when you look at it in isolation, but consider the negative value, sunk cost or organisation ceasing to exist due to pushing product lines that customers don’t want, not treating your employees like strategic partners in your supply chain, changing operating models or organizational structure without testing that the new way of working is effective, spending a high amount on ‘innovation theatre’ yet being disrupted. I hear about and read this stuff every single week. You don’t need to be a victim of it.

Be relentlessly data-driven and evidence-based rather than giving in to the ego.

This should be a mandatory behaviour you seek out and reward in your leaders to cultivate this culture with your entire ecosystem. Live by this, walk the talk. Be OK with failure, change the narrative around being wrong – it’s just about forming and testing many hypotheses to get the best outcome. Enable distributed leadership instead of living by command and control thinking.

You employ experienced specialists and experts to help you transform your business, listen to them and empower them. This is the way of the future. I challenge you to embrace it.

Starting your Own Journey

Three ways for you to get started with Capsifi

Gartner disclaimer:

Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Architecture Tools, Akshay Jhawar, Gilbert van der Heiden, Andrew Gianni, Andreas Frangou, 12 December 2022.
GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark and MAGIC QUADRANT is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and are used herein with permission. All rights reserved. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in our research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.