Please put the shower curtain inside the bathtub!

April 24, 2012
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I take risks as a blogger to use blog titles, like this one, that does not indicate the blog’s topic. So many readers will likely not read them. In addition, some of my blogs do not contain “keywords” like business analytics for website search engines to detect and drive more traffic. That further reduces the circulation of my blogs. However, I know I have a substantial readership following on this and other websites from my page-count statistics, so this blog is for you.

I take risks as a blogger to use blog titles, like this one, that does not indicate the blog’s topic. So many readers will likely not read them. In addition, some of my blogs do not contain “keywords” like business analytics for website search engines to detect and drive more traffic. That further reduces the circulation of my blogs. However, I know I have a substantial readership following on this and other websites from my page-count statistics, so this blog is for you.

What are key success ‘messages’ for business analytics?

My blog title is a quote from the famous hotelier, Conrad Hilton (1887-1979), who was the founder of the premier Hilton hotel chain (and great-grandfather of Paris Hilton). On the USA’s television program The Tonight Show with host Johnny Carson (who hosted 1962-1992 prior to Jay Leno’s era), Carson interviewed an aged Hilton as a guest. Carson asked him to reflect on his long career and successes and answer what “message” he had for the public. With great gravity, Hilton paused momentarily before turning to the camera. “Please,” he pleaded, “put the shower curtain inside the tub!”

Of course, the surprise is you were expecting a profound answer reflecting wisdom and experience. What Hilton answered was so basic yet revealing of his consideration of the extra work load of his hotel employees when the shower curtain is outside, not inside, the bath tub.

What is my message regarding analytics-based enterprise performance management?

In November, 2008 I did ask myself an indirectly related “what message?” question in my SAS blog titled, “What do I want my Epitaph and Legacy to Be?” I wrote after my death:

“I fear that someone will write my epitaph as: ‘Here lies Gary Cokins, who died a failure because his quixotic quest to convince organizations to adopt and integrate performance management methodologies (with imbedded analytics) fell on deaf ears.’ … I do have a good reputation for explaining enterprise performance management’s portfolio of integrated methodologies and solutions in ways that people can understand them. But that is not want I want to be remembered for. My desire is that I raised awareness that the impediments and barriers slowing the rate of adoption and integration of enterprise performance management methodologies are not technical – the software solutions are proven. The impediments are all social, such as human nature resistance to change, fear of knowing the truth, lack of executive leadership, lack of training, and so on. The key to success for implementing performance management is organizational change management and behavior modification. This is what I want to be remembered for.”

So, on a comparable level of Hilton’s simple but fundamental answer to the “what message?” question, mine would be: “When making enterprise performance improvements, do not underestimate how much people matter!”

Why do people matter so much to drive analytics?

If you have read my blog this far, then I imagine that you too have a passionate interest in organizations, possibly yours, to you use more fact-based information and analytics and less intuition, gut feel, and self-serving politics. Like Conrad Hilton’s message which ultimately if followed reduces the workload of a hotel house cleaning maid, I too often have a populist message like Will Rogers and Mark Twain. (As proof, read my “We’re Down Here” article.)

To advance the uses of analytics, think much more about how to overcome the social and cultural obstacles, not the technical ones. Technology is no longer the impediment. The obstacle is behavioral – overcoming resistance to change, fear of knowing the truth, and workers not wanting to be held accountable. You have to be psychologist to drive organizational transformation.