Self-aware organisations — Data is the new mirror

Perhaps, make it a really shiny mirror?Self-aware organisations:Self-awareness is not a new concept.

At its foundation, it’s just self-recognition but at its pinnacle, it’s the elixir that eludes humans in their quest to understand the purpose of their existence.

We have been battling with this notoriously complex and perplexing idea since Socrates.

It has certainly kept me busy over the years.

Self-aware organisations are collectively aware of their existence, values and purpose.

In fact, it helps to think of these organisations as single organisms.

It is true that each employee plays a role but benefits can only be realised collectively and the collective benefit to the organisation and the community is greater than the sum of all the contributions.

The collective awareness lends itself to strengthen the fabric of culture that ultimately determines the intrinsic value of an organisation and it’s social standingObviously, data that comprehensively reflects organisational processes is the foundation of self-aware organisations.

However, building such awareness of organisational data processes is like building a castle on quicksand.

Just imagine how chaotic it would be if the production line of Toyota constantly changed as they produced cars.

This is what the financial industry is grappling with, the dynamic nature of the processes mean they become obsolete by the time they are understood and documented.

In addition, the lack of platforms to make data discoverable and readily available is hindering the adaption of advanced analytics.

Why is this important now?Organisations have always strived to be self-aware but they face an uphill battle against ever-increasing business complexity.

The large organisations are intrinsically complex due to their sheer size.

But, increasingly myopic business strategies have resulted in business processes being unnecessarily complicated and swimming in details.

The brand of capitalism we are expected to subscribe in the new world is one that precariously balances both customer and shareholder interestsThe senior leaders are expected to make ‘bold’ decisions that achieve customer satisfaction and yet generate above-market returns for shareholders.

In a competitive market, this requires deep business insight and foresight.

Data and use of data through appropriate analytics will help generate objective insights to support bold decisions.

But more importantly, seamless propagation of data, information and insights throughout the organisation’s arterial systems will infuse necessary confidence required to make those bold decisions.

No leader is an island, while the leader bears the burden of single point accountability for the decisions it’s a collective effort to get it right.

Finally…The positive correlation between self-awareness and behaviour in individuals is quite extensively researched in psychology and philosophy.

It is no different for collective entities.

The organisation that is collectively aware of itself and how it interacts with the broader community is likely to demonstrate values and behaviours consistent with the community expectations.

Bit of self-reflection in the age of data commoditisation will go a long way in building great organisations and societies.


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