I recently observed a phenomenon with a client that warrants sharing with you. I would welcome hearing from you as to whether you have observed the same or contrary as this is a new insight for me.
I have a client of long-standing that this year made a strong commitment to becoming more data driven in their management decision-making. I am in the process of building what we call Instrument Panels (also called in the literature Balanced Scorecard and Dashboard) containing key metrics for the business. The intent is to a) become more objective in determining what constitutes a real issue, b) gaining greater certainty re. what strategies are working, c) become more proactive in defining problems or decisions needed, d) knowing which solutions are solving problems and which are not.
The process involves taking a team through a potential inventory of measures and then evaluating the extent to which a given measure tells them something about the organization that they don’t know, aids in making decisions that are important and is cost-effective to gather and analyze.
As I guided this particular team through the process, I found long standing barriers built on distrust breaking down. The team became collaborative, genuinely interested in what was important to measure in the other guy’s territory, synergistic through discovering inter-dependencies they had not articulated, empathetic, curious, collaborative. In short, a rather miraculous transformation. The outcome from the day was not only an agreed upon data set but the unintended outcome of a much stronger team that was genuinely interested in using metrics rather like a detective uses clues to find the truth about their organization and themselves.
Peter Lencioni in his landmark book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, depicts the first barrier that must be hurdled when building team as lack of trust. Before a team member can truly hear and incorporate (vs. react to) input from a fellow team member about his/her area of the organization, they have to trust that the intention of his/her associate is the success of the team member receiving the input. Without this, the team sits in their individual siloes, defending their function, deflecting input, etc. In short, the team doesn’t grow.
There are touchy-feely means to overcome lack of trust out there, some of which I still put to use. But getting in the trenches and wrestling with “How can we know our true condition as a company on an ongoing basis?”, and “What do we need to tackle as a team”? is a more effective means of getting there in my experience.
I am interested in hearing of your experience with this via e-mail. Alternatively, if you want to hear more about how building an Instrument Panel can move your organization forward, let us know.