Aligning effective stakeholder engagement

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Aligning effective stakeholder engagement as a driving force to delivering business value from data science.

 

Opening up the opportunities with data

If you’re trying to help your organisation become more data-driven you’ll almost certainly have come across pockets of indifference, or active resistance, to integrating data & analytics into the way their team works.

While it can be tempting to leave those teams behind in the hope that they will jump on the bandwagon when success stories from the more enthusiastic areas of the business start to be generated, in reality their inertia tends to slow the pace of organisational change down even indirectly. Instead you have to tread a middle ground – one where you don’t expend too much energy trying to enthuse a hard to please audience but do enough to keep them on board in an efficient way.

To achieve this it’s important to understand and address the reasons colleagues may not see the value in data, and the motivations of those who actively push back on it.

 

Effective stakeholder engagement: Making sure advanced analytics is properly understood

It can be frustrating trying to engage colleagues who don’t understand the value data can bring them. To someone passionate about the possibilities of analytics it seems so obvious! In my experience the best way to solve this is to focus the conversation on trying to understand their role and the issues they are facing so that you can make that connection between business value and data yourself, rather than trying to explain analytics and asking them to make that leap between abstract concept and practical outcome. If they won’t engage then sharing case studies from the relevant areas of other organisations is a great way to warm them up to the conversation.

Data detractors are even harder to work with – why are they resisting positive change when all we’re trying to do is help? The answer to this tends to be one of two things – either they have been burned by failed attempts at data-driven change in the past, or they feel threatened by the idea of data playing a larger role in decision making processes.

 

Early adopters

The only way to bring round the first group is to prove that value can be delivered successfully, words won’t matter to those with entrenched views whereas actions just might. Start small and make sure you do something that adds value to them early in the journey, you’ll either gain their buy-in or, at worst, build up a track record of success that reduces their negative influence on your ability to progress.

The second group most often feel threatened because they perceive the consequence of increased organisational reliance on data over intuition as reducing their role and power. A senior leader will often see the value they bring as being their ability to make good decisions based on the experience and knowledge they have built up over their career, telling them that data can make better decisions can therefore be seen as an almost existential threat to their position! The key here is to be sensitive to this – try to engage them 1-1 where they are less exposed to being shown up in front of colleagues and show them how data can augment, rather than replace, their experience in decision making.

 

Aligning analytic opportunities and business strategy

Often the confusion around the jargon of data science causes a lack of understanding and a propensity to create barriers from within the business.  Through a deeper understanding, business leaders can understand the value and potential that advanced analytics can bring. Mango works with businesses to help inspire and align effective stakeholder engagement to the possibilities of becoming a data-driven organisation.

Keen to know more?  Our Never Mind the Buzzwords webinar provides an insight into the benefits of close alignment between analytic opportunities and business strategy and could help address any specific barriers to change.

Author : Dave Gardner, Deputy Director