The Single Most Important Question Ever Posed

Friday May 3, 2019

Two women and Two Men Sat at a Table and Looking at a Paper Document TogetherIt is amazing how important a three-letter question can be. Small children master it with ruthless efficiency and throughout our years of education the best teachers try to ensure that it is at the forefront of our thinking.

The single most important question ever posed is, of course, “why?” and it is responsible for most of the major steps forward in human knowledge. Nevertheless, most of us apply it less often than we should – particularly in a work context.

We encounter this a lot when discussing a customer’s current practices. Generally, the conversation will arrive at something like “why are you doing this?” or “why are you reporting that metric?” and a common answer is “because we have always done so”. Upon further inspection it is sometimes clear that it currently serves no useful purpose but consumes effort and resources in its creation and may even be noise taking attention away from something more important.

Becoming a data-driven organisation is not about applying technology to make it easier to do things the way they always have been done. It is about taking a fresh look at how information can help to drive your business forward and then considering how it can be made available in the right form at the right time and in the right place to inform decision making.

Too many companies consider this to be an IT issue, but this is a mistake. The business should own the question “why should we become a data-driven organisation?” along with “what does this mean to us?” and these questions should be answered from the boardroom. Thereafter a joint effort between business and IT is required to make it happen.

If the reason is compelling enough and the commitment strong enough then the odds in favour of a successful transformation are far higher than for an organisation which has a greater technical capability but does not have a strong, and communicated, sense of why it should be done.

We will continue next week by considering the first practical steps on the journey to becoming a data-driven organisation.

Is the question “why?” used sufficiently in your organisation? Has a strong sense of “why?” been communicated throughout the organisation? Leave a comment, Like and Share as appropriate and drop us a note at if you would like to discuss further.

You can find last week’s post kicking off this thread here.

Steve Crosson Smith
Client Director, SDG Group

Helping companies to become
data-driven organisations
by enabling them to
organise, analyse and visualise data


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