This month, we’re featuring author, thought leader, and Okapi partner Jennifer Sertl in our latest installment of the Okapi Spotlight on Data Q&A series.
Jennifer Sertl is an author, thought leader, and the founder/president of Agility3R, focusing on strengthening the strategic and critical thinking skills of companies to make their leaders more resilient, responsive, and reflective. She is the author of the book, Strategy, Leadership and the Soul: Resilience, Responsiveness and Reflection for a Global Economy which she co-wrote with Okapi Advisory Board member Koby Huberman.
We talked to Jennifer about the many challenges surrounding organizational data & strategy and her approach to this.
Okapi: As someone dedicated to strategic critical thinking, how well do you think companies are handling the challenges they face around the data they collect and how they distribute & deliver it?
JS: I think Clay Shirky said it best: The issue today is not information overload, it’s filter failure.
I believe that companies have yet to sufficiently codify their strategies to enable them to truly leverage information that they’re collecting. The result? Many businesses attempt to accommodate everyone without a clear strategic intent. But if companies create a strategic filter to streamline the data, it can be more easily leveraged to reinforce certain themes. This allows the disseminated information to be used to increase productivity, employee cohesion, and ultimately optimize brand strategy. This strategic filter reveals the company’s level of innovation, know-how, and collaboration.
Many companies are preoccupied with just “getting the data” and using machine learning to do so. But are they actually executing a strategy and going to market using this data? Many are not there yet.
Okapi: What’s your approach to this challenge?
JS: There’s a business simulation game I run called Interplay. It allows teams to choose out of six strategies: synergy, know-how, velocity, collaboration, cost, and delivery. What we see, (e.g., in a company of 3000 employees with a 12-person executive team), is that a small subset of people each select a different subset of strategies. That means that even at the executive level, there an absence of alignment of priorities. And that impacts execution, for example: If cost is at the epicenter, there’s one way to execute. If it’s delivery, there’s another. So marketing and data can be acquired, but the core issue is getting a consensus around what we care about the most as an organization—strategically.
Okapi: So how do we change the mindset?
JS: If we think of every employee as a strategic agent, we know that every choice they make can bring us closer or further away from brand alignment. So it’s not just what they do, but how they execute that impacts the cumulative outcomes of an organization. By changing how we think, we can hierarchize our choices, rank them in terms of our organization’s priorities, and communicate that at the customer interface level to impact perception and outcomes. It gives us a behavioral blueprint. And it has allowed companies a way to ground themselves, sharpen their skills, and be more productive.
Okapi: That’s what our customers are saying.
JS: That’s what I love about Okapi. With the dashboard in your solution, you’re creating grounded criteria to generate visibility and feedback. Our behavior models are aligned. It just blows my mind that we actually have to strategically convince people that they need to be doing this.
Okapi: Why do you think that is?
JS: I think that understandably, people are reluctant to give all that information away. It can terrify people that everything is so transparent. Company leaders must understand that it’s their job to create clarity and a framework via which information can be leveraged as quickly as possible to win. That’s when the magic happens.
Want to make some operational and organizational magic for your business? Contact us for a demo today. Okapi is a custom data filter, a personal virtual assistant and an integrated, web-and-mobile-enabled dashboard—designed to help you reach your business goals.