Dotted lines to data equal despair

Nov 08, 2020

“Whose Line Is It Anyway?” is a classic and timeless make-believe gameshow with improvisational artists taking turns with straight faces trying to connect the dots on the fly of multiple disparate characters and situations. Its catchphrase is “the show where everything is made up and the points don’t matter!” It’s a silly source of entertainment. It’s also unfortunately an operational fact for many organizations.

Any business leader that willing admits their company is stuck in the rut of relying on highly manual processes and outdated technologies, likely sees his or her organization as a reflection of “the show”. Everything is on the verge of being made up and the financial numbers are so old they don’t really matter. In this typical all-hands on deck existence, every department head is an improvisational artist doing his and/or her best to connect their dot with a straight face to the other disparate dots in the rest of the company. However, it’s no laughing matter when decision makers are basing data driven decisions on outdated and farcical information.

To move out of this conundrum, transformation of an organization requires the dots to be connected. The dots must be joined and coupled much like a pipeline to allow the data to flow in an efficient and timely manner and not be subject to a bucket brigade lifting and toting data from one department to another. This takes a careful and thoughtful process of understanding the current state of alignment of people, processes, and technologies within an organization. Next, the future state alignment must be defined that is most conducive to reaching organizational goals and business objectives. Completion of this transformation is the careful implementation of the future state environment along with the structure to maintain and secure it. Important pieces of physical infrastructure, such as a pipeline, are always monitored and managed. The information pipeline is no different.

Once the pipeline of transformation is in place, it’s time to turn on the spigot of innovation. Instead of time spent searching for data and cobbling together hodge-podge reports, information flows through the pipeline to its designated destination. The right information at the right time in the hands of the right person increases data value and in turn company value. It provides an organization greater flexibility to take advantage of business opportunities, improves internal and external communications, fosters smart risk taking, more easily circumvents disaster, and ultimately facilitates success for any entity.

So, whose line is it? It’s your line, and you have two choices. You can invest in a pipeline of connectivity, communication, and collaboration joining the dots that enable better and timelier decisions. The alternative is to continue to live in despair with a broken dotted line to silos of data where it feels like everything is made up and the points don’t matter.

RSM contributors

  • Troy Rhodes