The new IBM Cognos Mobile iPad app is nice!

Just a quick post for today. It’s been a super busy week with stops in Barcelona, Munich and London. While sitting in the lounge in Munich, I was delighted to see that the IBM Cognos Mobile iPad app had been approved for the Apple iTunes store. A perfect opportunity to download it and test the offline capabilities at 33000ft cruising altitude. (I cannot wait to take the the app online this weekend!)

CLEAN AND SIMPLE

Once our plane had taken off, I pulled out my iPad and launched the app. European flights do not have WIFI, yet. But the app does support offline content. And so I was sitting there in seat 5D somewhere above Frankfurt and was able to test some of the dashboards and reports. Being able to work offline is a huge advantage, from my point of view. I have personally encountered so many situations where the wireless network was either poor or simply not accessible. But back to the Cognos app: The initial impression is excellent. The interface is nice and clean. It does not take any time at all to get up and running. Navigation is intuitive and all the usual finger movements (swiping, pointing etc.) work flawlessly.

IBM Cognos iPad
Offline content

Continue reading “The new IBM Cognos Mobile iPad app is nice!”

A few thoughts about gauge charts

Let me start by saying an obvious thing: Gauge charts do deserve some recognition. Actually, they deserve a medal – a medal for being the most controversial chart type in history.

When I first saw a gauge chart, I was impressed. They looked pretty cool. Things changed when I got involved with my first BI project. A closer look revealed that these charts are actually pretty tough to look at. But let’s back up and start from the beginning.

GAUGE CHART

Gauge charts allow us to visualize data in a way that resembles a real-life speedometer needle or a regular gauge. They usually  display a single key measure. The outer scale of the gauge is often color-coded to provide additional performance context (green for good, red for bad). Below is a typical example:

Gauge Charts
Feels like driving a car?

Continue reading “A few thoughts about gauge charts”

A Few Thoughts About Planning

There is an interesting discussion going on right now. Actually, it’s been going on for a few years. There are some people that argue against planning: “Why plan today? The world is so volatile! Any plan is typically rendered useless within a few weeks or months.” And then there are others who argue that planning is more important today than it’s ever been: “Planning helps us prepare for the future. It helps us consider our options.” I personally support the later opinion. Planning is a critical process today.

Continue reading “A Few Thoughts About Planning”

Why improving your AQ is critical for personal and organizational success

Do you know your AQ? AQ stands for Analytical Quotient. It is a new measure that provides you with insights about your organization’s ability to leverage business analytics. Most importantly, AQ helps you determine how to best go about improving your capabilities. I would highly recommend taking the self-assessment test on the IBM Website. It takes just a few minutes and provides you with very interesting feedback and ideas.

FOUR STAGES & THE NOVICE

IBM found that organizations typically go through four stages with their business analytics programs: Novice, Builder, Leader & Master. Companies that belong to the Novice category are still stuck in a spreadsheet world. And that can be a big problem. Spreadsheets are a great productivity tool, but they are not the right tool for managing your business. That raises the question: what exactly is the problem with being at the Novice stage? Let’s take a look at the Finance department as an example.

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH SPREADSHEETS?

A few years ago, my team started conducting some surveys amongst finance professionals. For this purpose we teamed up with David Axson (co-founder of the Hackett Group, book author). We specifically went after professionals that were not using Performance Management software, yet (i.e. organizations that belong to the Novice category). One of the key things we were interested in was the type of work finance professionals do in these organizations. It quickly appeared that there were five major categories of work. The results from our survey looked like this:

Cognos Finance Survey 2008

The majority of the time is spent on manual tasks such as collecting data (loading data from systems into spreadsheets, copying & pasting, manually entering budgeting numbers, etc..), maintaining spreadsheets (developing worksheets, fixing formulas, aggregating spreadsheet data, Visual Basic programming etc.) and then also developing reports & presentations (creating spreadsheet reports, graphs, Powerpoints etc.). Only about 20% of the overall time is spent on the high-value tasks such as performing in-depth analysis, running what-if scenarios, personal development etc.. A shocking but not a surprising picture. When we present the results to finance professionals we get a lot of head-nods. But I often sense a certain level of resignation as well (“Oh yeah….I know….that’s just the way it is.”).

A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PICTURE

Statistics are always a bit dry. So we took the data and applied the percentage distribution to a work week. The picture now looks quite interesting. What do you think?

Cognos Finance Survey 2008 - part 2

How does this feel? Same numbers. Just a different perspective. Two key questions come to mind: Can we live with that situation? Would we want to live with this situation? I doubt it. I have been there and didn’t necessarily like this. Sure, it’s nice to play around with spreadsheets knowing that you are indispensable. But is that what we want to get out of our professional lives? Is that why we went to business school? Is that why we spent so many hours studying for the CPA, CMA, CFA exams? This what being at the Novice stage can feel like.

MOVING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Technology helps shift this picture around tremendously. Business analytics can help you make a lot more time for the important things. What do you think about these insights? Are you familiar with this situation? I would love to hear your thoughts and about your own experiences.

A simply awesome idea for your projects

“Make sure the teams get to know each other! It’s a lot easier to collaborate once you have had a drink together.” That was the ubiquitous advice from my former boss. We were discussing some communication problems related to a large international project. Some team members on a global project were running into some issues. Most people had never met each other. Communication suffered and it was starting to show in the results. Not a big surprise: Effective communication is vital for success and it is therefore always listed as a critical success factor. Interacting and working with people we do not know is especially difficult.

WHO ARE YOU?

Many projects bring people from different places or organizations together. And it is a challenge for project managers and sponsors to build teams around people that have just met. To start this process many people either resort to elaborate introduction rounds or sometimes even games. (I remember once putting my right hand on the shoulder of a colleague while looking him in his eyes for three straight minutes….it was an interesting experience and that’s about it) But a lot of these efforts fall short in expectations: we do not get to know the other person and we are utterly bored.

A SIMPLY SIMPLE BUT AWESOME IDEA

The other day, I attended one of those infamous project kick offs at the global headquarters of a successful German company. We were about 15 people from different parts of the world. To be honest, I was dreading the common introduction round (“Hello my name is Tom and I work out of the ABC office.”). But to my surprise, the project manager dimmed the lights and launched a series of short videos. Believe it or not, each and every one of the attendees had recorded a simple video about themselves, their offices and their colleagues. Within a few minutes we were taken on an interesting and fun journey through their Hong Kong, Sydney, Munich and Beijing offices. We got to learn about their teams, we saw their offices, we learned a few things about their lives. Most importantly, all of the videos revealed something about the personalities behind the people. And it worked: the atmosphere in the room was great and energized. And the videos stuck: Just this morning, I found myself thinking about some of them. I will never forget these great people and it almost feels like I have known them for a while.

TAKE OUT YOUR CAMERA

How do you like that idea? I will definitely try this next time I kick-off a project with different new faces. Remember: It doesn’t have to be fancy. Any camera or smartphone will do to record something decent. Show your new team mates your offices, tell them about your self. All this requires very little effort. Keep it short and sweet. Have fun with it! Get to know your team from a new and fresh angle. It’s these fun moments that can really help build teams. So, take out your camera now!

Success with Forecasting – A discussion with Pieter Coens

Please meet Pieter Coens. Pieter is the Director of Finance & Control at Landal GreenParks in the Netherlands. He started his career in public accounting and joined Landal over 16 years ago. Pieter has held various positions in finance at Landal.

Landal GreenParks is a leader in bungalow-park management and rental. Landal has over 65 parks with a total of approximately 11,000 chalets. With 47 parks in the Netherlands, Landal leads the Dutch bungalow -park market. Outside the Netherlands, Landal has parks in Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

Pieter gave a great presentation about Landal’s planning and forecasting processes at the IBM Finance Forum in Amsterdam on May 24th, 2011. We were able to have a quick chat at the event.

Christoph Papenfuss: You have implemented IBM Cognos to automate your budgeting and forecasting processes. What have you accomplished so far?

Pieter Coens: IBM Cognos currently helps us create an annual budget along with a monthly forecast. For that purpose, we have implemented several elements including models for Rental Revenue and our P&L.

Christoph Papenfuss: How did you manage your processes before that?

Pieter Coens: We used to manage our processes with a myriad of Excel files. It was very difficult. We ran into various issues such as managing excessive file sizes that slowed down the network, dealing with sluggish recalculations, difficulties tracing interdependencies etc.. Aggregating the different files was extremely cumbersome and time-consuming. And of course, there are the associated audit issues with spreadsheets.

Christoph Papenfuss: How are you benefiting from the implementation?

Pieter Coens: IBM Cognos has allowed us to automate a lot of the steps in the process such as preparing, distributing and aggregating planning templates. We are also able to develop more intricate models that provide us with better insights. Overall, we feel that our finance team and the business users are now able to focus more on the actual planning activities rather than the administrative tasks that I described earlier. My team is much more productive.

Christoph Papenfuss: You have an annual budget and also a monthly forecast. Who is involved in the process?

Pieter Coens: Finance is in charge of executing the process. But the business owners have to work and develop their own budgets and forecasts. They are in charge of entering their data in the models. Finance plays the role of the coach: we help the business make sense of the numbers and we guide them through the forecasts and budget iterations. This approach provides us with several advantages: By actively involving the business we can obtain more accurate and timely data. We also feel that the business is able to gain better business insights by actively working with their budgets and forecasts and the associated monthly actuals. Last but not least, Finance has more time to focus on value-added tasks such as performing analysis.

Christoph Papenfuss: You have a solid forecasting process. How often do you update the forecast and how far do you look into the future?

Pieter Coens: We currently use a monthly forecast. This allows us to anticipate and react to market changes. We ask the business to perform a detailed forecast for the next two months only. The remaining months until year-end are automatically calculated as a trend of the 2-month forecast. We found that creating a detailed forecast further out than 2 months does not necessarily result in very accurate data and it also takes a lot effort. We want the business to focus their energy on the short time-horizon and only forecast the know effects throughout the Full Year.

Christoph Papenfuss: You are proponent of driver-based models. Can you give us an example of how you have implemented this? Also, what are the benefits for the organization.

Pieter Coens: Driver-based models allow us to increase the speed of the budgeting and forecasting exercise. Also, we are able to perform better analysis at month-end and during the planning activities: Instead of just looking at an absolute variance, drivers allow us to review this from different angles such as price or volume effects. Food & Beverage Revenue, for example, can be calculated as Number of Guestnights * Average Spend on Food & Beverage.  The associated Cost of Sales are a percentage of the Food & Beverage Revenue that has been calculated.

Christoph Papenfuss: How did you go about implementing the IBM Cognos solution?

Pieter Coens: We decided to follow a modular approach and started with a few smaller projects. This allowed us to build critical skills and develop success much earlier. This in turn led to a situation where the business heard about our accomplishments and they started asking for additional projects e.g. forecasting on Operational Management Information.. Change management is a lot easier if the business users ask for projects instead of us pushing them to accept

Christoph Papenfuss: What else are you planning to do?

Pieter Coens: We are definitely looking to reduce the level of detail in our models. More detail does not mean higher accuracy. On the contrary, more detail requires more work and it does not necessarily drive accuracy. We are also looking to implement additional models such as cash flow and predictive modeling/forecasting for our Yield department.

Christoph Papenfuss: Thank you very much, Pieter! Good luck with your implementation.

The analytics of cycling

Where is my auto-pilot? The Dolomites are stunning.

A few months ago, I posted an article about analytics in cycling. This post still remains one of the most popular posts on my blog. Thanks for all the great comments, feedback and questions. Many of you wanted to find out more. Here is a quick report of how technology helps improve cycling performance. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to ride the famous Alpe di Siusi climb in the Dolomites. It is a super nice and friendly climb: breathtaking landscape and not too long. It is fairly steep (average of 8.5%) but it is steady. In other words: a perfect opportunity to fit a short but challenging ride into a constrained schedule.

GADGET ALERT

High Tech in the hub: My Saris Cycleops Powermeter

A few years ago, powermeters became an affordable training tool for amateur riders like me. Smart technology is packed into either the bike cranks or the hub of a cycle and it measures a lot of data: power output, cadence, speed, torque, etc.. The data is sent to my Garmin Edge 705 cycling computer via ANT+ (similar to bluetooth) where it is combined with further GPS and altitude data. Following each ride, I download the data into a smart software called WKO+. This is where I can analyze each ride and learn a ton of stuff about myself.

PREPARATION

Blue line: fitness, pink line current training load, yellow line: freshness

Before leaving the house, I checked my performance chart in WKO+. This chart literally calculates and predicts my fitness using smart algorithms. The blue line for example shows my fitness ramp up. You can see that I had a rough spring: I was injured and could do not much until March. The yellow line indicates my ‘freshness’: a value below zero indicates that my legs are likely to feel heavy. A positive value indicates that I should have fresh legs. These algorithms work amazingly well and it really helps me put a solid training schedule together. For Saturday, I can see that I should have somewhat fresh legs (value is around +8). Perfect timing!

ON THE BIKE

An amazing piece of technology: The Garmin Edge 705

The climb went pretty well. Recent tests in training sessions have shown me that I am starting to get back in shape: I can easily sustain around 260w for about an hour. Wattage higher than 280 is likely to cause me some trouble (I experienced light cramps in a training session a few weeks ago). That information helps me with pacing. The climbs in Italy are pretty steep and it is easy to get carried away and push too hard. But after a few minutes I realized that the recent training efforts have indeed helped me improve and so I settled into a higher than normal pace. And this strategy worked out pretty well: I felt great and strong throughout the entire climb. I did have to hold back a little as it was getting extremely hot and I still had another climb across Passo Pinei.

OFF THE BIKE

Back home in Munich, I downloaded the ride into the software. How did I do? First, I take a look at my power distribution. A quick report shows me how much time I spent in different calculated training zones. The two zones on the right are the ones that really, really hurt. This is where your legs & lungs are screaming in pain. Hmm…Looks like I had a good day based on that. It seems that I have made some good progress. Time to increase the overall training intensity?

Time spent in different training zones

Let’s take a look at the detailed ride. The orange line shows the altitude profile. You can see that there were two different climbs. The other curves show the important stuff: power output (yellow), pedal cadence (green), speed (blue). Looks wild, doesn’t it?

Orange linge: altitude, yellow line: power output, green line: pedal cadence

But I am interested in my climbing performance. So let me zoom in on the Alpe di Siusi climb. To make it easier to analyze the data, I am drawing a few lines in here: the yellow dotted line shows my current threshold power (the power that I can produce for about one hour without falling off my bike in exhaustion) along with my favorite cadence zone (anything below 60 rpms does not feel good…). Aha. Looks like I had a good ride. Training is paying off indeed. I consistently rode above my estimated threshold and even had lot’s of energy to spare at the end of the climb (look at the yellow peak). Awesome.

The Alpe Suisi climb

The software also calculates several important and helpful KPIs. I won’t go into the details, but these KPIs help me further manage my training schedule. One easy example is Kilojoules:  I created energy worth 732 KJs (the equivalent of two Snickers!). That information is really helpful on longer training rides: it helps you manage food intake.

ANALYTICS IS FUN

Perfect. Despite not having much time, I managed to get a solid ride in. The powermeter helped me pace and push myself. The post-ride analysis showed that I need to adjust my training schedule: time for higher intensity workouts. Also, I will have more time to ride in the Alps over the next few weeks and will use this knowledge to ride some of the longer and harder passes.

It’s fun to ride this way: The analytics have allowed me to learn a lot about myself. I ride more consistently now. And I perform much better on climbs. It feels awesome when you have some energy left in the tank at the end of a climb: this time I raced a local delivery truck. Italians love cycling and the two guys in the car cheered me on while pushing the gas pedal a bit more. The sun was shining, the clouds opened up on amazing view and I felt like I could fly right in that moment.

Future Ready? A discussion with Steve Morlidge

Steve Morlidge, Future Ready

The IBM Finance Forum 2011 events have officially started in Europe. These events are designed for Finance professionals seeking to deliver stronger business insight to their organizations. Apart from being a great networking opportunity, we focus on sharing a lot of best-practice knowledge. Customers share their stories. And IBM also bring in great guest speakers like Steve Morlidge who share their tremendous knowledge in the finance area.

Steve MorlidgeSteve Morlidge will be joining many events across Europe this year. He is a true thought-leader in the area of financial performance management. In 2010, he released a ground-breaking book called ‘Future Ready – How to Master Business Forecasting’. Together with co-author Steve Player, Steve shares a lot of valuable knowledge that he gained in over 25 years as a senior finance executive working for international companies like Unilever. He is also an active member of the Beyond Budgeting Roundtable (BBRT).

Steve Morlidge and I were able to talk over the phone right before the first Finance Forum event in Zurich.

Christoph Papenfuss: Many companies are still developing annual budgets. Is this approach outdated or is there a place for the annual budget?

Steve Morlidge: I believe that conventional budgeting is dead, or at least very much on the way out. It takes too long, hinders responsiveness and fosters all kinds of damaging political behavior in enterprises. Companies still need to do things like setting targets, and this may still be called ‘budgeting’, but it is a long way from the traditional process many of us grew up with.

Christoph Papenfuss: What are some of the key issues associated with the traditional forecasting process?

Steve Morlidge: In my view most companies do not understand the difference between budgeting and forecasting. As a result, forecasting is done in too much detail, but not frequently enough. More importantly, the mindset is very often all wrong. Budgeting teaches us that gaps (between target and prognosis) are bad, whereas the primary purpose of forecasting is to detect deviations from plan so that corrective action can be taken; so unearthing such discrepancies should be positively encouraged, not punished.

Christoph Papenfuss: Many people talk about rolling forecasts. Are rolling forecasts a viable approach?

Steve Morlidge: They are, but too often people underestimate the task. In my book, rolling forecasts are forecasts with a consistent horizon: 12 months, 15 months or whatever. As a result, at any one time a significant chunk of the horizon may extend beyond the fiscal year end. Many of the processes upon which forecasting relies – like activity planning and so on – are anchored on the annual budgeting process so sourcing the information you need beyond the financial year end can sometimes be a challenge, unless these supporting processes are remodeled at the same time. Also, conventional annual target setting, particularly if it is tied to incentives, can distort a rolling forecast process to the point that it falls into disrepute. As a result, my advice to people is to fix the ‘in year’ forecast process first, before you tackle rolling horizons and the ‘out year’.

Christoph Papenfuss: We all know the saying ‘You get what you measure.’ Does this apply to the forecasting process?

Steve Morlidge: Absolutely. In fact, if you don’t measure the quality of your forecast process and, most importantly, act upon it, you have no kind of guarantee that the forecast can be relied upon. Proper measurement – closing the feedback loop – is the only thing that separates forecasting from guesswork, and in my book, 95% of corporate forecasts fall into the latter category.

Christoph Papenfuss: Many organizations utilize spreadsheets to manager their forecasts. What role does technology play to improve the forecasting and planning processes?

Steve Morlidge: At one level technology isn’t important at all – the main deficiency with business forecasting is the processes used and the thinking that lies behind it – not the toolset. Having said that, few companies can sustain a successful forecasting process without technology that enables them to streamline processes, provide appropriate modeling capabilities, support rapid reiteration, provide insightful measures, communicate results effectively and so on. Tools don’t make a master craftsman, but without them nothing would ever get built.

Christoph Papenfuss: You will be delivering a keynote presentation at many IBM Finance Forum events. Can you share a few things you will be talking about?

Steve Morlidge: My main message is that the practice of forecasting is broken, not because we don’t have the tools, but because we don’t know how to use the tools we have. I will be sharing what I have learned about mastering forecasting articulated in the form of six simple principles.

You can find out more about Steve on his website: http://www.satoripartners.co.uk. To see a full list of the Finance Forums 2011 events and to sign up, click here.

What photography taught me about dashboards


Photography and dashboards? Huh? Fire and Ice?

Photography is a big and important hobby of mine. And it is a tough hobby. There is a lot to learn and the opportunity to make mistakes (read: create photographs that really suck) is huge. It starts with understanding your camera, deciphering basics like Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. But the hardest thing for me is photographic composition. Composition focuses on how we design a photograph. Over the past few years, I have studied many master photographers and read a bunch of books trying to educate myself and to improve my pictures (a tough mission as my artistic brain is completely underdeveloped). A few weeks ago, I realized that photographic composition can teach us a few things about Dashboard design. Dashboards should be highly visual after all and they need to convey information in a short-period of time.

  1. Less is more: Many successful pictures have been reduced to a bare minimum. Each element in the frame has a distinct purpose. You will hardly ever find a great photograph which contains empty coke bottles lying around for no purpose. It would create a distraction. By reducing the elements in the frame a photographer creates focus. The same is true for dashboards. We have so much information available. People therefore try to cram as much into a dashboard as they can. And we stick logos, banners etc in there along with messy charts and reports. But less is more. If we reduce the building blocks to a minimum, we can help managers focus on the important things.
  2. Arrange carefully: Successful photographs are able to convey a certain message. The message is crafted by arranging the elements in the frame in a certain way. In other words: we can’t just find a nice scene or object but we need to carefully consider where to place items. The same applies to dashboards. Stephen Few for example points out that we should place the most important block in the upper left corner. That’s where the Western world starts reading. That way we can ensure that managers focus on the most important element first. Also, we can employ different techniques to direct our eyes. (see some examples below).
  3. Choose colors wisely: Different colors communicate different things. Our eyes focus on bright elements before they refocus on darker elements for example. Red or bold elements alert the eye as opposed to darker colors or thinner elements. A great photograph therefore utilizes colors with purpose. Sometimes colors take away from the meaning of a photograph. Black & White would be the obvious choice in that case. When it comes to dashboards we should employ the same considerations. Colors and fonts should be used with careful consideration. Too many dashboards are colorful without a specific purpose and it confuses the message. “What should I look at? I can’t see the tree in the forest.” Careful color choice helps direct the attention to the important items. For example, you can highlight an exception in red. But color preference is also a personal choice.

Here is an example where we can see these principles at work:

The overall scene

The scene is quite busy. The yellow color is not really useful. Not a good photograph. Basically a typical snapshot.

This photo creates focus. There is only one element in the frame. Much better. But it is kind of boring.

This photo is much better. It is more dynamic. Same object, different placement. What a difference!

Yet another version. This photo simply works. It is dynamic and the object is placed in the right spot. Color is not needed in this case. The picture works as a black & white.

Here are some examples that highlight how these things apply to dashboard design. Consider each box as a representation of an object (chart, query, etc.). Look at the first really sloppy design attempt. Looks weird? Well, it does happen quite a bit. Take a look at this beautiful collection of crazy, busy dashboards collected and displayed by Hichert & Partner.

Performance Dashboard
Want some candy???

And now look at the following layouts below. They are simple. There is no added noise that distracts. Notice that the light blue matches the design of this blog……Notice how the careful placement of the boxes makes a difference. The lines indicate how a typical user walks through the content. Also, note how the use of color changes things.

Dashboard DesignNext time you develop a dashboard be careful with your design. It does make a huge difference. Just these three things alone can have a big impact on the effectiveness of your dashboard.

If you are interested in this topic, please get in touch with me. We will be running some workshops about this topic across Europe in Q1 & Q2. Also, I will create a few additional posts about enhancing your dashboards with great charts over the next few weeks. Make sure to come back here!

“What you communicate depends both on the blocks you select and on the ways you arrange them”,

Freeman Patterson, Master Photographer

 

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Manager

CAUTION

Please do not read this post if you are opposed to humor, irony and severe sarcasm.

THE BATTLE CRY

The other day I came across an article in Time magazine about Amy Chua. Even here in Europe we can’t ignore her infamous book “Battle hymn of the tiger mother”. No matter if you agree with her or not, we cannot deny that she has started a pretty heated debate about raising our kids. Just this week I came across various articles about her and had to listen to some radio shows discussing her methods. Even here in Europe. Having heard so much about this topic, Jen and I certainly had a quick discussion about our approach to parenting.

BUSINESS ANALYTICS AND CHANGE MANAGEMENT

Some of you probably attended the Gartner BI Summit in London. As every year, many people discussed the problem of user adoption and change management. Over the years, I have witnessed many different attempts to increase user adoption: town hall meetings, trainings, flyers, videos, candies etc.. Some methods are successful, other methods fail. It always depends on the organization and its culture. During a discussion with different delegates, somebody made the comment that users can sometimes be more difficult than kids. Hmm…that sparked an idea.

ENTER THE TIGER MANAGER

If you follow the discussions in the press, there is heated dispute whether Mrs. Chua’s methods work or not. But since many organizations are struggling with change management, how about trying Mrs. Chua’s methods? How about unleashing the Tiger Manager:

  • “Nothing is fun unless you are good at it”: Some users resist using business analytics tools. They prefer to stick to spreadsheets. That’s what they know and that’s what they enjoy doing. Could it be that they are not using the new software because they are not good at it? Would it make sense to force users to practice using the new tools? Rather than sending out a friendly invite to attend training, would it make sense to just lock them up? To make this as effective as possible, one should not allow anybody to drink, eat or sleep until the users get better at it. Bathroom breaks should be strictly forbidden during the critical learning stages.
  • “You are garbage.“: We should all strive for perfection and we all know that poor analysis can lead to poor business decisions. Yet, some users seem to feel that it’s ok to use the new software sporadically. They resort back to spreadsheets and they make mistakes. If we come across somebody like that, we should call that out openly. Instead of offering help, why don’t we openly call those users ‘garbage’. Adjectives like ‘lazy’, ‘stupid’, ‘useless’ or ‘repulsive’ could represent a decent choice as well. The public insult and ridicule will teach these users a critical lesson: ‘You better use the new software and you better get damn good at using it!’. PERIOD
  • “Sorry. No sleep overs”: Users spend a lot of time on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. They also spend time getting coffee or lunch. All these activities take time away from learning how to use business analytics software. Would it make sense to cut off access to social networks? Also, would it make sense to force the inexperienced users to forgo coffee & cigarettes during the early stages of their learning experience? Also, isolating those users that struggle the most could help? Find them a remote office or conference room? Social interaction is fine. But it should only happen in a highly controlled manner.
  • “I am going to take all your stuffed animals and burn them.”: Some users are weird. They complain, they refuse, they battle. In other words: they just don’t get it. Soft skills only go so far. For those particular users we should start threatening to take their office decoration away: their favorite coffee mugs, their stuffed animals, their stress balls, etc.. And don’t just stop there. Some users need more drastic measures: smash their coffee mug in front of them, spit on their awards, rip their stuffed animal apart. That will teach them a lesson. And remember: Life is hard after all. Life is a battlefield. This type of experience could help them excel in other areas of their job as well.

What do you think? Seems like a good list of things. Let’s all strive to produce the best end-users a company could ever have! Would love to hear about your experiences with this. Maybe we will be able to read about your experiences in the Wall Street Journal. I could envision something like “Why Tiger Managers are Superior“…….