Does attacking the biggest challenge carry the biggest risk of failure? Paradoxically, no — because big problems command attention and incite action. And as survey participants told us, management bandwidth is a top obstacle. When the stakes are high, the best talent will leap at the opportunity to get involved.
It’s extraordinarily hard for people to change from making decisions based on personal experience to making them from data — especially when that data counters the prevailing common wisdom. But upsetting the status quo is much easier when everyone can see how it could contribute to a major goal. With a potential big reward in sight, a significant effort is easier to justify, and people across functions and levels are better able to support it.
A sharp focus on major opportunities can excite an organization with new possibilities. “Where are the best places to advertise to get consumers into our store?” was the looming, time-critical challenge for Best Buy. “How can we reduce the fraud and abuse that are draining scarce money and resources?” is a common refrain among government agencies around the globe.
Conversely, don’t start doing analytics without strategic business direction, as these efforts are likely to stall.