Sticky Data: Humans Needed

Living in an “Information Age” has its challenges. Many of us have come to rely too much on technology, expecting it to solve the world’s problems with little or no manual effort involved. Much like drivers who use GPS systems to blindly navigate the roads, organizations have become adept at creating systems that continuously — and quite consistently — gather more data than they can ever hope to digest. The ever-present “black hole” has become the standard repository for stacks of randomly gathered and unstructured data for which there is no defined home. If data collection is “a thing” for your enterprise (of course it is), then it’s best to make it stick to the processes where it can do the most good – aka “Sticky Data”.

As much as we enjoy implementing sophisticated data management technology that automatically gathers and stores data (e.g., Electronic Workflow Tracking, BPM and RFID), the human factor is ultimately the “glue” that converts raw data into usable and sticky datavaluable information (i.e., “sticky data”). Commonly recognized as methods for gathering sticky data, the above technologies, when supported by a workforce, can transform real-time data into business intelligence generators that drive more accurate insights into key areas of the business.  The simple truth is that without a structured program in place to target, collect, distribute, and analyze the most relevant data in real-time, organizations can be data rich but information poor.

Let’s look at one example. In a number of recent assessments within a global services organization, equipment repair quotes were consistently being rejected due to unacceptable delivery cycle times. Why was this? Determined to find the answers, the organization began researching the issue but quickly came to a road block:  minimal information was found on past successful or failed service project bids. Consequently, staff continued to waste energy reinventing the wheel for each new project, consuming significant amounts of unnecessary analytical time and effort.  What’s the underlying problem here? While there were certainly post-implementation reviews completed after each project, there was no subsequent communication or storage of data outside of everyone’s heads. The results (i.e., the discoveries) simply fell into a bottomless black hole. There was no mechanism to create sticky data that in turn could have been used as valuable information for subsequent efforts.

How should data be incorporated into the decision-making process? At Kaufman Global, we apply our SLIM-IT® model to ensure sticky data is an integral part, and final output, of any value stream. Applying a series of human elements, SLIM-IT incorporates change management techniques, the Lean Daily Management System ® (LDMS ®), KPI tracking, as well as a Lean structure that is designed to optimize communications across functions and organizational levels. Through this methodology, the power of data reaches its full potential because it’s held in place by the outer bands of formal organizational engagement.

What system do you have in place to ensure that the right data gets communicated, in the most effective way, to the right people?  Is data being translated into value-added information that sticks?