Our customers and prospective customers seek new ways of managing complexity as they typically have many business units in multiple geographies which often have conflicting priorities especially when engaging in large scale business change. The execution of business change is complex work and is at the centre of all our customer's business strategies. Helping managethis complexity is what we at element8 do.
Over the past few years there has been increased research in how to draw insight from complex information.
The subject is not new, for example, Florence Nightingale used charts to show infection and death rates. Another great example is Charles Joseph Minard's 1861 thematic map of Napoleon's ill-fated march on Moscow shown below:
This succinctly shows the futility of Napoleon's attempt to invade Russia and the utter destruction of his Grande Armee in the last months of 1812. Napoleon startedout with some 422,000 soldiers and returned with only 10,000. No written work or painting presents such a compelling picture as does Minard's graphic.
Today we generate huge amounts of data from which we try draw some sense. Edward Tufte published some outstanding works (see http://www.edwardtufte.com) and recently David McCandless has brought the subject right up to date – have a look at his TED presentation and his site.
Today we use pie charts, stacked bars etc courtesy of Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint – but these tools have really limited our way of visualising complex information.
At element8 we are helping our customers manageexecution of business change, and to better understand the complex data being generated from computer log files (who logged on when, what they did, what behaviours we can infer from the data users generate).
We can take a behavioural statement and suggest a quantitative measure to reflect that behaviour as follows:
- 'I am interested' – I have visited a page/subject more than 2 times in the past month
- 'I think other people will be interested' – I have sent a link to someone else
- 'I am engaged' – I visit this page/topic every 2 – 3 days over the past month
- 'I am committed' – I update/contribute to this page/topic on a regular basis
- 'My team is committed' – 80% of a team/function/department update on a regular basis
- 'My team is more engaged than another team' – My team consistently update, on average, than the other guys.
As we abstract this to a level where, say, organisations are trying to engage their staff in key issues such as improving customer service, making local improvements or creating ideas for new products, we can start to quantify the level of engagement day by day, minute by minute, team by team. Whilst this may start to seem quite Orwellian, it does start to provide very fast feedback to management what’s working and what’s not. It also provides a powerful way of socialising the required behaviours amongst staff. Research clearly shows the creation of social norms as one of the most powerful drivers of changed behaviour:
- '68% of your peers have delivered cost reduction initiatives'
- '85% of your team has commented on the report'
Imagine a CEO wants to engage the organisation to improve customer service and she/he puts out a challenge for everyone to submit thoughts on how this can be done on xpointTM. With the right communications and recognition early adopters will start to make suggestions.