Why Analytics Projects Fail – #5: Organizational Politics

One of the biggest hindrances to the success of analytics projects is something most of us have experienced, organizational politics.

Organizational politics are informal, unofficial, and sometimes behind-the-scenes efforts to sell ideas, influence an organization, increase power, or achieve other targeted objectives. This is what happens when you find yourself being thrown under the bus… taken a fall for someone else’s mistake.

If you are lucky to have escaped organization politics for the most part and wondering just how they can lead to the downfall of an analytics project, let me share with you an idea what that looks like.

Data is horded. People don’t like sharing because its not encouraged or rewarded. In some cases people can be outright mean about it. Keeping data that they know can have a positive impact for others just to hold power over someone. It’s nasty.

This generally comes because senior leaders don’t really see the big picture and don’t share much themselves. This trickles down to the ones with the data and they build castle walls around their information and act as gatekeepers.

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Projects can also be hindered, stalled or killed for no reason other than your boss lost to another boss. I once had a million dollar analytics project shelved because my boss got in trouble with the big boss. Nothing to do with me or my project or its cost or its benefits, it was completely because of something out my control.

When asking around you might hear of an experience like this as well. People hoard, manipulate and/or alter data not because it is being rewarded or encouraged, but because they are afraid being caught red-handed. A good analyst has to be willing to  report the good with the bad.

One area of organizational politics you can control though is your likability. I make the comment a lot, that you have to be likeable to be an effective analyst. If people like you they share data with you, they advocate for analytics, they support you in a multitude of ways.

If they don’t like you, then its gonna be hard to be seen as an asset to the organization. An analysts job is to educate, illuminate, and inspire… you can’t do that with a bad reputation. This is a lesson many of us have to learn the hard way, but once we learn it we can see opportunities to increase our likability factor and actively use them to push our projects forward.

So the outcome of an analytics project you are working with is in jeopardy if you are in an organization rife with office politics. SO short of updating your resume, what can you do to turn the boat around?

Here are 3 things I suggest:

  1. Get buy in from the top. Make sure what you do feeds its way up the food chain. Make sure the top dog’s analytics needs are being met and if they are not show how they can be.
  2. Use your data to show win-wins. Find examples of where if we combined data from one source with data from another source you would have the makings of something even greater.
  3. Buy lunch for the ones hording the data. Extend the olive brand, multiple times if need be. If you don’t stating being the catalyst for data sharing, who will?

If you can start impacting some of the negative consequences of your organization’s internal politics then your analytics projects will start seeding positive change. And that will eventually make all the difference in your success or failure.

If you need help combating some of the office politics in your organization that are hindering you analytics projects, connect with me and we will figure it out.

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Analytics Culture – The key to using analytics in a business is like a secret sauce that fuels Data-Driven Decison-Making. It is a unique combination of analytics talent, technology and technique that are brought together to enrich and empower an organization.

A successful analytics culture is not easy to create, but DMAIPH can show you how. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can build a strategic plan to turn your company into analytics driven success story.

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