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Wayne Eckerson

Welcome to Wayne's World, my blog that illuminates the latest thinking about how to deliver insights from business data and celebrates out-of-the-box thinkers and doers in the business intelligence (BI), performance management and data warehousing (DW) fields. Tune in here if you want to keep abreast of the latest trends, techniques, and technologies in this dynamic industry.

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Wayne has been a thought leader in the business intelligence field since the early 1990s. He has conducted numerous research studies and is a noted speaker, blogger, and consultant. He is the author of two widely read books: Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business (2005, 2010) and The Secrets of Analytical Leaders: Insights from Information Insiders (2012).

Wayne is currently director of BI Leadership Research, an education and research service run by TechTarget that provides objective, vendor neutral content to business intelligence (BI) professionals worldwide. Wayne’s consulting company, BI Leader Consulting, provides strategic planning, architectural reviews, internal workshops, and long-term mentoring to both user and vendor organizations. For many years, Wayne served as director of education and research at The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) where he oversaw the company’s content and training programs and chaired its BI Executive Summit. He can be reached by email at weckerson@techtarget.com.

In the quest to deliver business intelligence (BI) solutions, we often get wrapped up in the technology and lose sight of the end game, which is to help the business make better decisions.

Lately, I've been reading about decision making. One book, "Decide and Deliver: 5 Steps to Breakthrough Performance in Your Organization," is chock full of practical advice about improving decision making in organizations. Written by a trio of Bain consultants, the book, offers some great anecdotes and useful tools for improving your company's decision effectiveness.

One key point is that decision speed and execution are as important as decision quality. The authors quote Bill Graber, a long-time General Electric executive, who describes the source of GE's extraordinary performance during the 1980s and 1990s. "There is this myth that we made better decisions than our competitors. That's just not true. Our decisions probably weren't any better than many other companies. What GE did do was make decisions a lot faster than anybody else, and once we made a decision, we followed through to make sure we delivered the results we were expecting."

The authors say there are four elements to decision effectiveness:


  1. Quality. Good decisions are based on facts, not opinions, and take into account risk. There is also healthy debate among valid alternatives.

  2. Speed. Good decisions are made at the right speed. If made too slowly, the competition gains an advantage. If made too fast, valid alternatives are not explored and wrong decisions are made.

  3. Yield. Yield refers to an organizations' ability to execute decisions. Decisions that don't trickle down to the people that need to carry out the actions don't succeed.

  4. Effort. Effort refers to the "time, trouble, expense, and sheer emotional energy" required to make or execute a decision. Too much effort slows decision making, too little effort results in poor quality decisions.

The authors created a survey instrument to help organizations quantify their capabilities along these four dimensions. They also created a formula to determine an organization's overall decision effectiveness: Quality x Speed x Yield - Effort.

As BI professionals, we need to strive to deliver the "right information to the right people in the right format" - a critical success factor touted in the book. Thus, it's imperative we embrace agile development techniques and operationalize our data flows to ensure timely delivery of information to decision makers so they can not only make the right decision, but do so quicker than the competition.


Posted January 3, 2012 8:37 AM
Permalink | 1 Comment |

1 Comment

Thanks for book recommendation. I think the point "Quicker than competition" is really what time and again is a business "differentiate-R".

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