Improve Project Success with Data That’s All Around You

Every executive considers whether they are dedicating resources to initiatives that may not pan out. Too often, project directors use their best guess at what will make them successful, including the past performance of similar initiatives. Using internal data harvested from across your business or program will help reduce bias and create a decision engine that exposes weaknesses and pinpoints high performance, both of which will eliminate guesswork and create a path to successful projects.

Harvesting data from within your organization based on fourteen domains of measurement, such as alignment, governance and vision, will help you identify a rich source of information that will improve over time and pay off in unexpected ways.

For example, a critical turn in the history of Netflix came after company executives discovered a chasm between rigid operations and the ability to keep up with market shifts. They realized they needed to compensate by hiring high-performance people. A deep understanding of the problem revealed the solution.

Here are some ways to harvest data from within your organization:

  • Eliminate bias that says there is not any useful data, or the only data is related to past performance. Data is all around you; look closer until you see it. For example, just because you are implementing an information technology project doesn’t mean relevant data only comes from IT.
  • Collect data from the fourteen domains to begin embracing a wider and deeper understanding of where relevant data comes from because resources are rarely siloed. People working in a different part of the business will usually touch on other parts from time to time. With any initiative, some degree of overlap will take place. You have untapped resources for harvesting data in your teams.
  • Resist relying on historical performance data to guide your decisions. Fight the temptation to look to the past to inform the future. This bias is common among executives. Such data is only accurate if you are executing the same project with all the same variables, which is unlikely and why companies often end up with Frankenstein models made of bits and pieces of past initiatives.
  • While you are collecting data about your program’s ability to execute a specific initiative, aggregate the data for future and ongoing visibility into your organization. You will gain insight into the capacity of your business or program to adapt to the next iteration or strategy quickly. This will give you broader insight into a program that most executives have never had, which will prove to be invaluable in making future decisions.

While data is the world’s most valuable resource, knowing how to leverage it to enable project success remains elusive to many executives—harvest organizational data by taking these first steps.

This article is based on the book Measure, Executive, Win! By Alex Castro