There is a perennial problem that plagues so many long-term data quality initiatives, yet few data quality leaders plan for it or in most cases recognise it as a real issue.
The problem is “executive churn” – and if left unchecked it can seriously damage the health of your data quality aspirations.Several years ago I learned of the demise of one of the UK’s most pioneering data quality teams that had delivered substantial cost savings and revenue gains for their employer. They were the very model of data quality success, yet a new management change signaled their undoing as the incoming executive decided to wield the “cost-saving axe” in their direction (note the sense of irony!).
We all know that data quality management generates savings across the organisation, but to some leaders these initiatives can be viewed as a cost centre and are ripe for an early cull in order to make their particular budget balance sheet look a little healthier in their first term of office.
So what’s the solution?
If you’re a data quality leader, you need to have a sponsor transition strategy in place. Remember Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model?
Well, here’s a quick reminder:
- Step 1: Create Urgency
- Step 2: Form a Powerful Coalition
- Step 3: Create a Vision for Change
- Step 4: Communicate the Vision
- Step 5: Remove Obstacles
- Step 6: Create Short-term Wins
- Step 7: Build on the Change
- Step 8: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture
Steps 1, 2, 6 and 8 in particular are critical for riding out the storm that is often caused by executive churn.
You need to build a coalition of leaders instead of just relying on one sponsor. In addition, you need to demonstrate a sense of urgency to any new executive leader coming into the organisation by highlighting the many quick wins your team has generated and the tangible performance improvements you’ve amassed.
This doesn’t happen magically – nor should it be a reactive process. You need to accept that leadership changes will take place regularly enough to make this a potential barrier to the long-term success of your data quality goals.
So how about you? How is your executive continuity plan coming along? Do you have one?
Start putting some ideas down today and make this a reality.