Real Turning Point and Revolution comes with Understanding

I published this first in Cloudriven’s blog as guest writer. When guys from Cloudriven contacted me because of this writing, I welcome the challenge. After all, writing about your own thoughts is always a great opportunity to exchange knowledge as well as to invest in personal growth. Writing blogs is just a great learning method. I am also extremely curious. Does anyone want to comment on my thoughts? – A new perspective can be found, and again, a new one.

Some thoughts about the theme were given to me in advance – the blog post should be related to management and leadership, how knowledge management and business intelligence have changed over the years. I wondered for a moment how these topics could be assessed. – Huge increase in the amount of information is reality. And huge increase in the technical processing power is real. At the same time, the development of cloud services with lower prices are changing the business models of service providers, and the entire playground. Big Data and IoT Industrial Internet and Internet of Everything are now here integrating everything and everybody to each other. Data quality and data governance and other governance models, architectures, management models, and Master Data are being developed enthusiastically in order to create processable order in the world of data and information management. – Each of these has their endless story. Technology is evolving and it is wonderful. – Never ending story. And, btw, I believe that someday this evolution will save us.

In this story, however, I choose to focus on leadership and management. Technological progress brings no doubt the majority of earnings for the majority of people, and, therefore, around them is the largest buzzing, but a major change, perhaps we can call it revolutionary, is happening related to leadership. Also, this revolution touches the general public, but has so far been a somewhat troublesome theme. I’ll tell you next, what I mean by this.

At first I make a strong presumption that we have a problem which needs to be solved. And I am interested in developing a solution. – Quite a general problem I have experienced, and heard the experience of others, is that the outcomes of projects are difficult to understand and take into use. Related problem is often that there are some misunderstandings and barriers between the IM function and business including top management. It can be difficult to get the management to commit to operations, which are considered very important within the organization that is developing knowledge management solutions. Very often there are also problems in defining the information business and management needs, when development processes are initiated. – I review these observations with my 30 years of experience in developing information management solutions, sales and management.

cubes and pyramids How am I supposed to deal with the problem? First, I want to remove the idea off my head that I know the best and that I would just need to get other people to understand. We are so easily educators and teachers to each other and at the same time we’re trapped in our own private silos, our own thoughts and our own assumptions. Instead, the real turning point, cultural change, means understanding other parties and finding the methods to increase the understanding and motivation. The word method means here real operations and actions. The target is to change the way of doing.

What could it mean in real life to understand and test our own presumptions? Personally, I think I can understand the information management, knowledge management and business intelligence best from the development side, i.e. from the supplier’s side. I want to strengthen my understanding of business and management needs, so first of all, a couple of years ago I started to study business economy. Strengthen the knowledge base. I recommend this for everyone. But where can I get the approach of “the other party” including the business management and leadership? Remember, we have some problems to fully understand. I am currently studying this using a series of surveys to find out the top management’s points of views related to information management and business intelligence in Finland.  This year I have done two studies and received responses from about 700 directors. This valuable material increases understanding of the development of working methods and it can also be used to plan the following research areas and research methods. By expanding everyone’s own understanding, we can gradually build a common understanding. Not the final goal, but a good start.

It is sweet to find and compare other related aspects, such as the following perspectives on leadership and organizational culture change, which I have found during this writing process.

Dr. Harri Laihonen from Tampere University of Technology writes in his recent blog post about people on two floors, as in two layers, in relation to knowledge management and business intelligence. In recent debate, Laihonen has detected that the people debating are divided into two lairs. Business management typically discusses about strategy implementations, development of management models and developing and improving the performance. Another perspective seeks to address the operational issues of data management, for example, tools for data processing, collecting the data and processing it further, and management models closely in relation to information management. These things are typically treated with the information management function or IM department. Depending on which perspective you choose, different problems, different questions and different solutions are being deal with, because of different cultures and traditions. And also the practices require different skills.

Cloudriven conducted recently an extensive survey to find out the pain points of Finnish management practices related to, for example, feedback culture, incidental evaluation of strategy and actions, insufficient repetition and communication of important issues, insufficient communication of the objectives and the ultimate purpose of the organization. Solutions are created through leadership and the development of management models. These observations are clearly linked to the perspectives introduced by Laihonen and they also support the aspects, which I study and develop – methods and solutions to increase understanding; bridges across cultural silos.

On Independence Day, December 6th in Finland, I began to read a book called Leadership Playbook (Johtamisen pelikirja) by Tero J. Kauppinen (2013). Kauppinen is a recognized Finnish leadership guru, author, management consultant and an executive himself. The Leadership Playbook gives a good outline of the management playfield from strategic intent to committed and consistent actions – from human behavior to business related things. The book is based on an extremely extensive leadership research and joint work of more than 150 leaders. I personally like structuring leadership in this manner, because it becomes possible to compare various aspects with each other, and to find connection between actions and impact. Based on extensive research and experience, Kauppinen presents the approach that in addition to the so-called strategic and operational hand, a third hand, the “middleman” or “middle-hand”, is needed to lead strategy into actions and build a bridge over the implementation gap.

The strategy does not change itself into actions, because the new future challenges the existing systems and procedures, and also the existing metrics. The gap is real, and practices between strategic and operative management are still under development. It is also about change management. Often this also demands a new approach to knowledge management. I see here clear connections to the aspects mentioned above, which support for the development of methods and solutions – integrating the management of development, business and change management.

I am sure that the problem can be solved. As all the big things do, this one requires passion from the solution seekers. And this thing is big. This is a cultural collision. The greatest part is that the final solution will be found in every organization and in every individual human being. This problem has to be solved together. Models and examples help the blood to circulate. The first step is to recognize and to confess that “I and we have a problem”.


You can find this also in Finnish

This blog was originally published (with minor modifications) in Cloudriven’s blog.

The writer is an entrepreneur and consultant at Petri Hakanen Oy (Ltd) and at BBI Group Oy and Petri is also acting chairman for TDWI Finland, leading business intelligence community in Finland, – information management professional, manager and leader, advocate for information-based management – Consultant and Interim manager at Your service.


Published on: Dec 16, 2014 / Petri Hakanen