Whether building a new team or function from scratch (maybe it’s just you!) or scaling up a team, intentionally defining your purpose is a great way to get clarity on what’s important, which will help enormously with future prioritising.
Crafting a purpose statement is well worth working in a group to do, perhaps even with an outside facilitator. For an analytics team, your purpose covers why you are here, what you do towards the wider vision of the organisation, who you deliver to and how. Others have written better about how to do this.
Vision – Roadmap – Plan
Vision is the description of where you want to go – Liz Ryan from humanworkplace.com talks about long-term vision being the view from the clouds. Objectives and goals are the hilltop view, the big picture of what’s going on and the ability to see if you’re headed in the direction you wanted to go. Initiatives, projects and day-to-day tasks are down in the weeds at ground level. Additional to all of this, in analytics, there’s always the rabbit holes you go down from there into the actual data – so there’s many levels to our work!
My passion is for creating the staircases between cloud and hilltop, and then again between hilltop and ground level. My experience is that where there is too much separation between these viewpoints, alignment slips and work becomes disconnected from vision. As a result, people can feel isolated in their jobs without a sense of contributing to the wider purpose of whatever organisation they work for.
What creates the staircase between cloud and hilltop?
The act of translating a long term vision into reality comes in two parts:
- Getting really specific about what the vision means in reality. Define those terms and say what it would look, feel, sound and smell like in that future reality. As an example, many analytics teams set a vision of being a ‘sector leader’. The next step is to articulate in specific terms what it means to be a sector leader.
- Roadmap from where you are now to where you want to be in a timeframe. An outline plan, a roadmap, sets out where you are now, what needs to be achieved to reach your vision point, the path forward and key milestones along the way. It is not a detailed plan, it must be flexible to change, it can’t be set in stone. However, it must give a sense of the order that change needs to come in. Some change is dependent on other change, certain things must therefore come first. A roadmap allows you to define what elements of your change are foundational:
- what must be in place for you to succeed in the future?
- what changes are needed to enable other changes?
- what is most important and will create most value?
- what order do you need to do things in? What is for now, what’s next, what’s for the future?
What creates the staircase between hilltop and ground?
The act of translating your roadmap into a plan involves:
- Planning out what you need to do now
- Setting objectives with short timeframes and specific deliverables
Measurement and Pride
The integrity of the staircases from ground to hilltop to cloud viewpoint is strengthened by both measurement and pride. It is vital to put in place some form of measurement of how you are doing, to enable you to adapt, improve and change direction as needed.
From ground to hilltop, the measurements can focus on whether tasks are being completed and how well.
- What outputs have you delivered?
- Are you doing what you said you were going to do?
- How well are you doing what you said you were going to do?
From hilltop to cloud, the measurements can focus on whether the work you are doing is having the kind of outcome and impact that you wanted – are you moving closer to your vision?
- What are the outcomes of what you have delivered? What has happened as a result of your work?
- How well do these outcomes show an improvement on the past?
- How much closer are you to your vision?
What about Pride?
Perhaps this is just another corny quote but I like it (and have no idea who said it):
Don’t wait until you’ve reached The Internet…
your goal to be proud of yourself.
Be proud of every step you take
toward reaching that goal.
This is incredibly important as an ingredient in effective measurement. Any evaluation, KPIs, monitoring, tracking and reporting could be improved by thinking about what there is to be proud of from the work done. Learning lessons about what to improve is, of course, essential too. But without pride in what has gone well with acknowledgment and celebration of that, learnings will feel weighty and burdensome. You can be proud of successes, and proud to have been bold enough to fail, knowing now something that you did not know before.
The Pride Spectrum
As an individual or as a team, where do you fall on the pride spectrum?
How might you aim more for the middle?
What are you proudest of?
How do you celebrate success?