Design and Delivery Teams – Essential for Enterprise Analytics

October 26, 2010
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People think by comparisons. So let me give you an analogy. I am a big fan of movies – old black and white ones, new ones with special effects, and most types in between. I especially like musicals. One of my favorite musical films is West Side Story, released in 1961. It is a retelling of Shakespeare’s tragic romance Romeo and Juliet. What does a Broadway musical and its subsequent film version have to do with successful enterprise analytics-based performance management? Plenty. Here is the background.

People think by comparisons. So let me give you an analogy. I am a big fan of movies – old black and white ones, new ones with special effects, and most types in between. I especially like musicals. One of my favorite musical films is West Side Story, released in 1961. It is a retelling of Shakespeare’s tragic romance Romeo and Juliet. What does a Broadway musical and its subsequent film version have to do with successful enterprise analytics-based performance management? Plenty. Here is the background.

Please oblige me if you are so young that you are unaware of this film or have dismissed it as a silly folly about two tough 1950s New York City street gangs – the working-class white Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks – dancing and singing. West Side Story has parallels to what it takes to achieve the full vision of a successful implementation of the analytics-based performance management framework.

I request you read my monthly article Performance Management as a “West Side Story” to see how I apply this analogy.

If you are time-pressed, here is the short version of it with three parallels:

A first parallel is a skilled design team. Three giant talents in their respective fields collaborated on West Side Story: Jerome Robbins in dance, Stephen Sondheim with its lyrics, and Leonard Bernstein with its music. A prerequisite with successful business analtics is good model design and construction.

A second parallel involves who will operate the analytics based performance management framework. Who will analyze its information, gain insights, make decisions, and take actions?

A third parallel is a breakthrough moment or event. A little-known fact about West Side Story’s opening night on Broadway is that it almost flopped. During the first hour of the performance, the audience was unemotional and unresponsive – stone cold. But the breakthrough moment that saved the play and sparked the audience’s interest was the rooftop scene with the Sharks and their girlfriends. The scene opens with the girls proclaiming their happiness as immigrants and singing the song “America,” starting with “I want to be in America! OK by me in America!” It was a magical moment.

A successful implementation of the performance management framework benefits from all three parallels. The developers need to be skilled. The project team needs to be talented. Finally, some sort of spark or trigger event is needed to get buy-in – both from the users of performance management information and the executive team. West Side Story had the three elements that led to its global and timeless appeal, and each one was critical to its success:

• Developers (the music, lyrics, and dance)
• Users (the actors)
• Buy-in (a trigger event)

My belief is that, as with West Side Story, successful performance management is not about software but rather its model designs for each performance management methodology (e.g., a strategy map and its companion balanced scorecard, cost assignments), its users, and the spark or breakthrough event. The spark is not serendipity. The clever performance management project team knows when, where and with whom to ignite it.