Are you still with me?
How will the achievement of your goal(s) be measured? Please note here that "how" has two dimensions: one is related to process and the other to a unit of measure. In all of my vast personal experience, all of the attention has been focused on the unit of measure part (when there has been any attention at all), and the process part has never even been part of the conversation.
Please understand that what follows is not intended to sling mud at any individual or organization. My purpose is to clear the air so that we can talk about how we're really going to achieve our goal(s).
I am going to generalize based on extensive, though anecdotal, experience. In other words, I have not conducted a survey, scientific or otherwise, and cannot produce data to back up anything I'm about to say here, so I'm leaving it up to you, the reader to determine whether it feels like truth or not. Should you feel that this does not ring true, or should you wish to fault me for not being more objective, I would ask that you produce a study or at least a body of experience in support of your position.
Awards of bonus dollars tied to achievement are based solely on whether the holder of the dollars wishes to give them away or not. There is rarely, if ever, any protocol defined for defining metrics, units of measure or measurement process. You will go into an "annual assessment" meeting with your boss and he or she may discuss your level of achievement in very general terms before announcing the amount of your bonus or a recommendation for an increased level of compensation.
Why is this important, you ask? Well, it is important because it's the the way things are done. Despite vigorous protests to the contrary, the business world is set up to run on subjective assessment supporting subjective decisions. What, you say that your decisions are "data-driven" (objective)? I would love to hear the story behind the data that was used to arrive at your most recent decision.
All of this is background for understanding why "data" initiatives so frequently become mired in a swamp of politics and personality. Let's walk back from a data-driven decision.
- You are able to make the decision because you trust the data.
- You trust the data because you are familiar with and trust its source.
- You trust the source because you know that it is reliable.
- You know that it is reliable because it consistently produces information that can be relied upon.
- The source has been consistent because it always uses a tried and true methodology (set of processes) to produce its product.
- The consistency is possible because the methodology includes steps designed to validate the source's inputs.
- The validation decision returns us to #1.
How do you feel about standards (e.g., standard operating procedure or SOP)? If you don't currently support the creation, implementation auditable use of standards or, at any time in the past have not done so, you have no right to and almost certainly do not have access to reliable information and therefore no claim to data-driven decisions. Just to drive the point home, when your boss decides that you won't be getting that bonus or increase you were counting on, your only acceptable response is to smile and say thank you.
By the way, if you notice that your bank account (or budget) is suddenly much bigger (or smaller) than it was yesterday, what is your responsibility? Who are you accountable to? How much trust can you afford? Now you have some insight into compliance.
The use of technology introduces an additional huge portion of uncertainty into the trust equation. Take another look at the decision walk-back above and note the points where the use of technology means adding additional paths and complexity to the validation process. This is what your data governance people are trying to get their arms around.
- data-driven or intelligence-driven decisions demand trust
- trust demands reliability
- reliability demands consistency
- consistency demands compliance
- compliance demands governance
OK, you can go back to work now.