Technology and data have plenty of attention in the boardroom. Organizations are massively seeing the benefits of digitization and also experiencing the pain when they are lagging behind. A record turnout of over sixty senior level executives in the digital business domain underlined the need for knowledge and insight during the recent CIO Masterclass. CZ-CIO Peter Slager acted as guest speaker. 

Chair Fiep Warmerdam introduced the day’s theme Tech and Data in the Boardroom not from her role as a young consultant, but rather as a consumer who is increasingly making digital choices. She was referring in particular to her own and future generations. “When choosing health insurance, a digital card for my phone is an important requirement,” she warned. “Boards must align their decisions of today with the customer needs of today and tomorrow.” 

Digital enterprises
Before Peter Slager explained how, as CIO of health insurer CZ, he puts technology and data on the agenda, Gerard Wijers first outlined the playing field. “In 1991 I did my PhD in IT Strategy and back then it was definitely not a boardroom topic,” said the co-founder of Anderson MacGyver and Nyenrode professor. “By now it is. It’s great to work with our clients to create digital businesses.” 

All organizations, he says, are becoming increasingly digital, regardless of the sector. Although, companies within media, travel and, to a lesser extent, retail are generally further ahead than, say, manufacturing companies and infrastructure builders. Nevertheless, there are similar challenges everywhere, according to Anderson MacGyver’s own Digital Business Monitor. Take the need for scalability, responsiveness and customer focus. Or the pain of excessive costs, too much complexity, scarce talent and poor data quality. 

A holistic view of digitalization addresses multiple aspects, according to the Anderson MacGyver co-founder: “Digitization of the operational backbone, digitalization of the customer and employee experience and being able to innovate and create digital business models. All of this is made possible by underlying enabling technology.” 

Central elements
Other central elements of the digital enterprise are digital smartness and shared data. According to Wijers, these are not things you approach as standalone, but as much as possible in connection with the digital frontend, backend and infrastructure. “Digital is everybody’s job. Everything you do has to be scalable, fit for purpose – that requires ownership and multidisciplinary teams and responsibilities.” 

He also introduced the concept of multimodality. This means that different aspects of business operations require different kinds of IT. Sometimes focused on distinctive service or market position, and sometimes focused on operational efficiency. The so-called Operating Model Canvas (OMC) helps determine which IT optimally fits which business activity. 

The OMC of CZ shows with the use of colors that at the health insurer the many generic processes labeled green, partly in view of the highly regulated business domain, require stable and efficient IT support. In addition, on the customer side blue (adaptive) deserves attention, while on the product side purple predominates: the need for distinctive (specialized) solutions. 

Personal drivers
The easy-talking CZ-CIO Peter Slager would return briefly to OMC after his presentation. First, he talked about his own motivations to help improve health care. “My wife is a general practitioner, so we have regular conversations at the kitchen table about the possibilities. I also believe that business and IT are one in the same, with tech and data as enablers of all kinds of new possibilities.” 

That power of innovation is badly needed, because the healthcare industry is facing major challenges: keeping healthcare affordable and dealing with labor shortages. As one of the larger companies, the board member says CZ can help guide the sector toward tech- and data-based solutions. The former top handball player brings vision, extensive digital leadership experience and team spirit. 

To best address the spearheads for the so-called CZ2030 strategy, he is working on, among other things, customer focus, simplification, streamlined methods and processes and, finally, a more results-driven culture. A more focused organization and a scalable, modular and secure IT landscape are important tools. 

Strategic enabler
Peter Slager has now been on the way for about two years. “In the summer of 2023, we saw that as part of the IT change program, costs were rising dramatically. In addition, we needed to accelerate. Together with Anderson Macgyver, we then determined a new target architecture. With the OMC, we saw which IT best fit our processes, principles and business activities. The conclusion was that we had too much customization. In addition to standardization, we also recalibrated the sourcing strategy.” 

At the end of his presentation, the CZ-CIO again emphasized the strategic importance of technology and data, striking a good balance between business value-oriented innovativeness and limiting complexity. “After two years, we as IT have made the shift from internal supplier to a more strategic enabler,” he said. 

It was striking that the questions from the 60-member audience were mostly about the strategic position of technology and data, with Peter Slager emphasizing that digital tools can help pre-eminently in being able to provide people with the right care. AI can also play a role in this – supporting the human factor and especially as an enabler for operational excellence and serving customers better. 

Moreover, it is important to involve concerned employees, suppliers and other parties in the ecosystem. Slager: “We really have to do it together.” 

Curious about the recap of our previous Masterclass with Jon Månson of Scania? Read it here.

Don’t forget to continually address the appetite for business results
This is the third and last part of our blog series on key approaches for designing successful Data to Value journeys. In part 2 we talked about the importance of data and business people spending time together to explicitly define and prioritize data value opportunities. By doing this abstract data value terms are made tangible and bridges are built from required business capabilities to data capabilities. A joint understanding is achieved of what data capabilities are required; including the typical and for business people sometimes uncomfortable truth that also nasty foundational capabilities require company-wide, thus also business, attention. 

In this blog we discuss the importance on continually addressing the appetite for business results by delivering the data products that the business needs whilst also working on an improved Data Foundation. 

The effects of not finding the right balance 
It is probably easiest to define right balance from a perspective of imbalance. 

  • If you focus your budget and efforts too much on Data Value Delivery, you will be end up with data products that do not meet requirements; do not comply to regulations, cannot be integrated in your architecture, do not scale for production usage, do not provide sufficiently accurate insights etcetera. Great experiments in a dark and cold cellar that will never see the light of day. 
  • If you put too much emphasis on Data Foundation, you will end up doing lengthy and costly work without making an impact on the business. You spend a lot time and budget without visible impact, you will loose momentum, business will loose their focus and limit their contribution, executives will become impatient and eventually the plug will be pulled. 

To put it into slightly different words; without plumbing (Data Foundation) no water fill flow from the tap (Data Value Delivery). Endlessly fixing leaks in your plumbing without opening the tap will not quench your organizations thirst for value and you data initiatives will eventually perish

Based on our experiences of working with many organizations we can confidently state that already creating this awareness is already a major step forward. The next step is to structure your data activities and expenditure along these lines. This facilitates constructive dialogue and conscious decisions were points of view are understood and considered. 

Data value opportunities are your guiding star 
Answering the question where exactly the right balance lies for an organization is a much harder one to answer. You can build on your detailed and prioritized definition of data value opportunities; these should drive your decisions. Below we have listed several examples of recent considerations with our clients 

  • Do we need a machine learning capability if we are focused on using market standard systems for all our business activities expect for product engineering? Should we limit to a small pocket of advanced analytics capabilities in this business domain? 
  • Do we need a organization wide self service capability if only the engineering and finances departments are expected to use this? Should we then focus on cataloging only the data domains that engineering and finance intensively use? 
  • Giving the fact that we work with partners in sales; should we focus on data interoperability in that data domain first of all? 
  • Based on our business risks, what are our Critical Data Elements and should we focus on these for data quality measures first? Should we first of all tackle the data domain to which the majority of CDE’s belong to? 
  • Should we really focus on continuous data quality monitoring if we merely use data for descriptive reports that contain pointers for our sales people? 

Create an overview of required capabilities per opportunities and consolidate this. Include the data domain dimension in analyses to allow for focused and / or staged implementation. Ask yourself the question whether staged data product releases make sense; can we deliver an 80% solution short term to later deliver enhanced solution? And were does this not make sense, e.g. due to risk of presenting misleading or incorrect insights. 

Below you will find an illustrative example using a DAMA DMBok based data management capability framework. 

Once you have a clear picture of your target capabilities you can start measuring the delta between your current actual and target and based on this identify what effort is required where. Where do I need to fix the plumbing and which business thirst should I focus on quenching first of all? Share considerations and options with users and jointly create the implementation roadmap. 

Do not become the modern day Don Quichot 
To summarize, Anderson MacGyver suggest adopting the following approaches for designing successful Data to Value journeys 

  1. Take a business value centric approach 
  1. Use data value opportunities as the bridge between business goals and data capabilities 
  1. Spend time making data value opportunities explicit and always prioritize 
  1. Speak up about the need for foundational improvements; but always relate this to the data value opportunities  
  1. Data value opportunity priorities drive your data capabilities prioritization 
  1. Carefully assess which data capabilities you truly require, and which you do not require, to be able to address the prioritized data value opportunities 
  1. Consider interim releases and selective per data domain implementations to be able to deliver shorter term results 

Focus on data value opportunities
In this short blog series we share approaches on how to get business and data people to better understand each other and jointly create value. In this second of three parts, we focus on the theme of building bridges between business value and data capabilities. 

Data visions, goals and strategies can sometimes be perceived as abstract. When things are too abstract, people can find it hard to relate to. Abstract pictures typically do not result in desire. Would a horse run after a carrot if it did not know that carrots were tasty? In the same line of reasoning would a business professional spend time on data quality if this person would not have a clear picture of what he would be missing out on if he would not tackle? 

Does a clump of earth entertain your data team?
Unfortunately we quite often encounter situations where the data team ends up pretty much empty handed when engaging with business executives on priorities. The Dutch often use the following expression for this: “Met een kluitje in het riet sturen.” It does not translate very well but something like “send into the reed with a clump of earth” would probably come nearest. The expression comes from the past were shepherds would keep their sheepdogs entertained by throwing a spade of earth into the reed and the dogs would spend a lot of time looking to something they would never find.  

In order to avoid wasting your time searching for earth in reed and make your Data to Value initiatives successful you need to really spend time with your business users and executives to jointly substantiate the opportunities to create value with data. Jointly spelling out what data products are required, how these will be used and coming up with a concise narrative on what value is created with that is crucial. Do not settle for examples and drive for clear definitions. Anderson MacGyver uses the framework below.

Drive for explicit definitions and prioritization
At first glance it might seem somewhat elaborate but you will find being thorough in your rational from business goals all they way through to required data capabilities will prove to be a crucial bridge for a focused effort towards business value through data. 

Be sure to prioritize data value opportunities and do not accept statements that “everything” is important as you will fail to deliver “everything.” Be clear about the need to shake hands on what needs to done with highest priority for business success. Only through crossing the chasm from “could do” to “should do” to “need to do” you achieve commitment. Commitment not only for actually using data products, but also commitment to jointly address any enabling factors; which often boils down to improving the organization’s Data Foundation.

Speak up and dare to call out foundational challenges
Building on this commitment, explicitly spell out the requirements for being able to deliver the prioritized data products. It may not win you the popularity prize short term but data professionals are not magicians and business contribution is inevitable for impactful and sustainable data to value. Do not be afraid of explaining in simple business terms the impact that, for instance an incomplete data set, will have on the usability of the data product that your stakeholders have committed to really needing for their success. Do always present in the context of the why; the earlier agreed business priorities. 

This is not an easy conversation; people rather hear the good news. With the explicit narrative with the link between business value and data capability, you should have more fertile soil to address the unpopular dirty details on the foundational changes that are necessary and even more awkward, address the need for a company-wide contribution to addressing these foundational changes. 

Having said this, do keep in mind that the appetite for business results needs to be continually addressed. Do not use the understanding around the need for foundational improvements to disappear and work only under the hood. We discuss this topic in the third, and last, part of this blog series.

By Edwin Wieringa  

Flipping through the financial pages of newspapers and my favorite news sites, I see a wide mismatch between supply and demand in a variety of industries. That’s unfortunate. In my opinion, it doesn’t take much for companies to deliver exactly what the market demands even in times of economic turbulence. The key lies in a flexibly organized core.   

That mismatch is visible everywhere. In the case of logistics firms, which allocated their resources to the wrong business activities. Or the media company, which after years of double-digit growth rates is suddenly facing a 10 percent downturn. A leading social media platform is doing even worse. A machine maker for the tire industry, due in part to a lack of staff, is unable to meet demand.   

That begs the question for me: how agile are organizations really? And how can you activate that agility? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to be flexible with available resources and people? By temporarily shifting them to business units or activities where they are most needed, if necessary?  

Adjustable organization   
To be more ‘adjustable’ as an organization, you need to be able to push a number of buttons to address uncertainty in terms of suppliers, available talent, economic conditions and impactful events. This would allow many companies, which are currently unable to meet demand, for example, to scale up more expeditiously.   

They should focus on a flexibly organized ‘core’. This is in contrast to a rigid hierarchy or structure in which specific people and roles are judged on specific things. By thinking and acting more from the bigger picture, it becomes easier to allocate resources where they are most valuable.   

In the digital domain, you can work with pools of specialists, who may or may not be available from their area of expertise for part of the time for matters of general interest. Think of a club of engineers, architects or product owners from the business, who you deploy where the pain is or for new opportunities. That would also fit in very well with the informal Dutch work culture. 

Evolutionary steps   
For example, the company LeasePlan is organized in this way. If necessary, they can make interventions in terms of people and resources. The beauty is that reshaping the organization to such flexibility is not a revolutionary change. It can all be done in small, evolutionary steps toward balanced governance, where within a functional structure it is clear who is talking to what counterpart from another pool about what.   

That way you can identify, address and solve a specific challenge without having to change the overall organizational structure. After all, most companies have that foundation well in place. Just a few buttons that allow you to adapt to outside change. Hopefully with upbeat financial news as the ultimate result.   

Want to learn more about organizing data and technology? See our latest whitepaper, ‘Organizing Data & Technology’

Scania’s history and culture are typical for the way the Swedish truck manufacturer operates: focused on harmony and support within a decentralized dynamic. Because after a decade of toil a global CRM-system had stalled at only a quarter of the rollout, external help was brought in. Jon Månson, Head of Sales Digitalization at Scania and Anderson MacGyver’s Cliff de Laat tell how they onboarded the organization. 

More than a decade ago, Scania already saw the importance of a standardized CRM system. This would allow the truck manufacturer to offer its high-quality and complex products in the same way all over the world. Moreover, it was realized early on that the availability of the right data would enable Scania to make the move to new forms of digital services. The beckoning prospect was clear, but various countries and markets partly determine themselves how they set up their IT-systems.  

The so-called Scania CRM application (SCRM for short), based on a global Microsoft Dynamics implementation, was an important strategic pillar and was in desparate need for a successful re-launch. Refloating the stranded process was therefore the primary task of Jon Månson, who took office as Head of Sales Digitalization in 2021. 

Matter of trust
“The requirements and expectations for the functionality offered were much higher in the various countries than the central organization could deliver,” he reflects. “The fragmented setup combined with a support plagued by lack of capacity led to a lack of trust among local stakeholders. Prioritization of their requirements also took place in the boardroom, which had a huge delaying effect.”  

Månson saw from the beginning that getting local decision makers on board and aligning their input with the global template and vice versa was crucial to a successful relaunch. “In doing so, local markets had to be able to choose their own configuration to some extent, but tight governance was put in place for that,” said Cliff de Laat, who was involved as product manager from Anderson MacGyver.  

“It was a complex process,” the consultant continued. “But the potential benefit of far-reaching unification is great.” Meanwhile, the rollout is well underway, with 90 percent of the total sales volume running through the system early next year, which is in line with the original goal. “Challenge was that we had hard targets in a relatively soft culture.” 

Sustainability goals   
That Swedish signature has brought Scania much since its founding in 1891. It was one of the first manufacturers to launch modern products such as the turbocharger and an ethanol-powered bus. Driven by business and sustainability goals, the truck brand also had a world first with an all-electric truck in 2020.  

In addition, Scania early on embraced the principle of customization based on modular, component-based product lines. “As early as 1980, this made it possible to customize each newly ordered truck to the customer’s requirements,” said Jon Månson.   

The Swedish company has long had a structured way of working: the Scania Way. Based on customer focus, respect, team spirit, responsibility and avoiding waste, Scania works to ensure safety, quality, low costs and optimal processes. “Through continuous improvement, we have a leading position in the field of sustainable transport.” 

Complex set up 
Scania employs some 57,000 people across seven regions. A rough tenfold of largely autonomous business units serve more than a hundred countries. Månson calls it a combination of “coordinated and uncoordinated independence,” which is quite challenging in a corporate culture that values consensus strongly.  

Apart from this complex set-up, everywhere one has to deal with the aforementioned modularity, where the components used are themselves constantly subject to change and improvement. All this puts the necessary pressure on decentralized sales and marketing departments, many of which have to deal with a multitude of product configurations and prices using their own systems.  

A central SCRM, based on a single version and corresponding data model, would enable sales representatives better than ever to sell sustainable transportation solutions based on customer requirements and supported by data-driven insights. Anderson MacGyver was contacted for the rollout in 2021. 

No clear picture

“The local stakeholders at that time did not have a clear picture of the added value of the new system,” says De Laat. “SCRM was mainly seen as a way to save costs, which was not even an objective on paper. Partly because of this, the internal fan base was lacking.”  

In addition, ideation and solutioning, as stated, took place primarily bottom-up. “As a result, the product owner was overloaded with requirements. The mandate to be able to determine priorities in consultation was lacking.” Larger local markets were also powerful enough to be able to override global guidelines, which made global standardization and rollout difficult. While there was indeed a great need to integrate, local teams often failed to meet the requirements to do so.  

A quick and successful re-launch of the CRM-program was based on four pillars, according to the Anderson MacGyver consultant: clear vision, structured demand management, local configuration capabilities and unified data products. 

According to De Laat, it started with a clear product vision, with all stakeholders committing to the intended setup. “In addition, we introduced Agile Product Ownership in combination with structured demand management, based on three pillars: aggregation of needs within the various markets, prioritization on added value of requested functionality, and a standardized rollout in all markets.” 

For the necessary support, it was important to facilitate the necessary freedom for specific local needs. This was done in part based on a “configuration federated approach” for the most mature markets with their own development teams. “This theoretical possibility for market-specific configuration contributed greatly to the necessary support and the possibility of acceleration. Although ultimately no one chose this.” 

A “functional federated approach” was available for all markets, where certain features could easily be turned on or off, keeping local needs and tastes in mind. De Laat: “This allowed them to create their own system locally based on central capabilities and best-practices provided.” 

Uniform data products  
SCRM offers uniform data products to all data users. In addition to the standard data collection from Microsoft Dynamics, generic near-real-time streaming data products are available via APIs, and more specific data can be exchanged to and from the central data layer on demand.  

Before Anderson MacGyver and Månson could get to work with all this, they faced an unexpected obstacle: there were calls from local stakeholders to replace the already partially deployed Microsoft system for that of competitor Salesforce.  

De Laat: “After analysis, it was clear that little or nothing would be gained from a different solution in a functional sense. And since a quarter already worked with the intended SCRM, an alternative solution would have taken us even longer. By actively selling the added value of the chosen solution we realized the necessary support.” 

Scania’s Jon Månson looks back on the journey with Anderson MacGyver with satisfaction: “There are still challenges, of course, but the speed with which we are now making strides is making a big impression within our organization. It shows that you can achieve this kind of change without top-down control in close cooperation with the various markets. And that you can overcome the usual friction between central and decentralized, and mutual departments.”  

Three things were fundamental here: make stakeholders themselves responsible for their decisions, consistency in terms of chosen direction, and involving the right people. Månson: “On the last point, we benefited greatly from the help from Anderson MacGyver. Cliff and his team have made real breakthroughs.”  

The management style based on harmony and support also contributed to the success. “I constantly asked myself what I could do for the stakeholders,” said Scania’s Head of Sales Digitalization. 

Courage and backing    
 “We took everyone with an opinion seriously,” adds Cliff de Laat. “With internal politics, things were reduced to the essentials. Naturally, we were willing to discuss and confront them. The courage and backing shown by Jon helped enormously in this regard.” 

By Robbert Petterson

In my life as a consultant I’ve met a lot of organizations where IT was organized in the basement. These IT-basement companies saw this department as a cost center and did not want to invest too much in technology. This bothered me because I believe that if you organize tech and data in the right way you can create a lot of value for your business, your customers, your partners and other stakeholders in your ecosystem. But how to do this? At Anderson MacGyver, we believe that every strategic decision on your technology and organization starts with understanding the business. At our customers, we create the Operating Model Canvas in our own INOX tooling that visualizes their entire business with IT investments and applications. This powerful tooling allows us to start strategic discussions on board level to make smart decisions and really make impact. 

One of the questions we often get is: how do other organizations make their investment decisions? A valid question which in my opinion validates to be researched. Driven by my own personal curiosity, I therefore designed the Digital Business Monitor – a survey I sent out to over 600 digital leaders across Europe. The aim was to get a better understanding of the strategic decisions these leaders are making in the context of their business. 

Knowing that the business in every company is organized differently, I needed to come up with domains that are more or less recognized in every organization. Therefore, I chose to present five business activity domains that represent specific business activities that organizations do. Then I asked the digital leaders to distribute their digital investments across these business activity domains and the results were not what I expected. My assumptions were that digital leaders would invest most of their digital capital in development of products and services and in digital interactions with their customers. This would be the areas that make companies distinctive from their competitors. 

However, the results show that most was invested in the Business Operations domain. Although these findings could partly be explained by the need of investments in replacing their core legacy systems, most digital leaders viewed this domain as most distinctive. Apparently it is not always the front-end technologies and digital innovative products that have organizations stand out. A smooth and automated operational backbone may be just as important to achieve competitive advantage. 

If you want to know more about my other findings with the Digital Business Monitor, you can download the infographic with results here.

A corporate culture based on harmony and decentralized freedom has several advantages: there is often a focus on the longer term, there is sustainable treatment of people and the environment, decisions tend to be widely supported, and they provide the right breeding ground for innovation. Yet even such a culture sometimes cannot escape the need to steer firmly towards higher goals, as was evident during Anderson MacGyver’s recent CIO Masterclass. With a starring role for Swedish truck manufacturer Scania. 

The meeting at the headquarters in IJsselstein sometimes breathed the atmosphere of a cultural exchange: the sometimes somewhat undiplomatic Dutch drive versus the Swedish modesty and inclination toward harmony and support. Guest speaker Jon Månson of Scania is also averse to bravado and stage presence, he told us at the start of his presentation. Despite his enviable position as Head of Sales Digitalization at the highly successful company for over 130 years. 

The connecting touch of chairman of the day Lovisa Lundblad, who works at Anderson MacGyver’s Swedish office in Stockholm, as well as the introductory word from Nordics director Patrik Hermansson added to the Scandinavian-inspired ambiance. “We have been active in the Nordics with Anderson MacGyver for four years,” Hermansson stated. “The startup phase is behind us and we are working hard to grow. Interactive meetings such as these CIO Masterclasses contribute significantly to this.” 

Guiding principles 
Leading clients like Scania are illustrative of the steps the increasingly international consulting company is making. The presentations by Jon Månson and management consultant Cliff de Laat, involved with Scania from Anderson MacGyver, fuel thoughts that the Swedish and Dutch temperaments are a perfect match. 

Founded in 1891, Scania was one of the first manufacturers to introduce modern products such as the turbocharger and an ethanol-powered bus during its long years of existence. Driven by business and sustainability goals, the truck brand was also the first to launch an all-electric truck in 2020. It also embraced early on the principle of customization based on modular, component-based product lines. 

“This made it possible back in 1980 to be able to customize each newly ordered truck to the customer’s requirements,” says Jon Månson. “Our so-called Scania Way is a way of working in which customer focus, respect, team spirit, responsibility, and avoiding waste are guiding principles.” 

Scania employs about 57,000 people, spread across seven regions and roughly ten times as many largely autonomous business units, serving more than a hundred countries. Månson called it a combination of “coordinated and uncoordinated independence” in IJsselstein. This structure combined with the complex product range puts the necessary pressure on decentralized sales and marketing departments, many of which have to deal with a multitude of product configurations and prices using their own systems. 

Månson has been Head of Sales Digitalization since 2021. His initial task was to smooth the rollout of the central CRM program, known as Scania CRM (SCRM), which was stranded at only a quarter of its potential. “With a standardized system, we could offer products the same way everywhere,” he said. Moreover, the availability of the right data would make it easier for the company to move into new forms of digital services. But a successful re-launch required more than just the right intentions and a looming perspective. 

For this purpose, contact was made with Anderson MacGyver. Under the leadership of Cliff de Laat, who held the role of Product Owner of the system to be rolled out within Scania, the intended objective was nearly achieved thanks to a structured approach. Nearly 90 percent of sales volume now runs through SCRM. “Important was a clear argument for why a central CRM was needed: to enable sales representatives to sell sustainable transport solutions based on customer requirements and supported by data-driven insights,” De Laat told us. 

Structured demand management helps to identify needs in different markets, and then determine any priorities. Ultimately, this resulted in a single solution for the central availability of uniform data, with clear added value for global markets. “Moreover, the theoretical possibility of market-specific configuration contributed greatly to the necessary support and the possibility of acceleration.” 

Breakthroughs realized
Jon Månson: “Our trajectory shows that you can still achieve major changes without top-down control in close cooperation with the various markets. The usual friction between central, decentralized and various departments involved can be overcome by making stakeholders themselves responsible for their decisions, consistency in terms of the chosen direction and involving the right people. For example, we benefited greatly from the help provided by Anderson MacGyver. Cliff and his team have made real breakthroughs.” 

The process shows that you can achieve major changes without top-down direction

Jon Månson – Director Sales Digitalisation at Scania

After an extensive question-and-answer session with the participants, Lovisa Lundblad posed the closing question: what do the speakers consider the greatest success of their joint journey? Månson: “I don’t like to brag, but moving forward: that sales representatives tell me they are very satisfied with the system.” De Laat: “That through SCRM we have become an enabler instead of a bottleneck. We now talk to users about digital sales, marketing automation, and so on. Exactly the position you want to be in as a product owner.” 

Why don’t they get it? 
Frustration filled the room like toxic black smoke during a recent conversation with a data governance specialist at one of our clients. “Why am I not getting the attention that is needed to get our data governance up to scratch? Everyone seems to believe in the value potential of data but no-one is willing to tackle the fundamental issues we clearly have. I know exactly what needs to be done and have expressed this an unmeasurable number of times. Why don’t they get it?” 

Had we just met the modern day Don Quixote? Maybe, but from our experience this Don Quixote does not stand alone. We regularly encounter situations where magic is expected from data and the data team without sufficiently acknowledging the need to improve the foundation.

In the following blog series we would like to share with you the typical approaches that Anderson MacGyver deploys to overcome such challenges and to get business and data people to better understand each other and jointly create value. 

Key elements of Data to Value journeys 
At the highest abstraction level, successful initiatives to get more value from data consist of the following three elements 

  1. Business relevant data vision, goals & strategy that are understood by all 
  2. Organizing Data Value Delivery 
  3. Organizing Data Foundation 

Two practices for achieving impactful change
Besides ensuring that all stakeholders have a clear and common understanding of a business relevant data vision, goals and strategy, the two keys to delivering a sustainable and impactful change with data are

  • Build tangible bridges between business value and data capabilities
  • Balance your value delivery and foundational efforts

Note: Data Value Delivery encompasses all activities and associated capabilities that deliver data products that are used by the business and either constitute or directly contribute to, business value. Data Foundation covers all activities and associated capabilities that enable Data value delivery, but do not directly contribute to nor constitute business value. Organization of both sets of activities and capabilities is captured in a data operating model that defines way of working, processes, organization structure, people resources, governance, systems & technology and sourcing approach.

We will focus on the theme of building bridges in part 2 of this blog.

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By Cliff de Laat

One of the key principles for Middle managers in Agile environments is choosing to focus on trust over control. In my personal experience I have seen Middle managers offering a lot of space and trust in which people are really empowered to be their best self at work. The complete opposite, I have also seen Middle managers trying to control every situation. Not allowing any room for failure or growing of the talents of the team.

Our Middle managers are caught between a rock and a hard place. Targets from their bosses and the teams struggling to deliver on their challenges. It is not easy but nobody ever said it was easy. It requires some bravery but I believe this is one of the key-principles to get the right results. This principle acknowledges the need to empower teams, foster collaboration, and encourage autonomy, while also providing the necessary guidance and oversight to ensure alignment with organizational goals and objectives.

1.     Trust as the Foundation: Trust is the cornerstone of Agile environments. Middle managers should trust their teams to make informed decisions, take ownership of their work, and deliver value. By enforcing an environment of trust, Middle managers enable teams to self-organize and become more innovative, motivated, and productive. Trust empowers individuals and promotes a culture of accountability, where team members are encouraged to take risks and learn from their experiences.

2.     Empowerment through Autonomy: Middle managers should empower teams by granting them autonomy. This means allowing teams to have control over their work processes, task allocation, and decision-making. Empowered teams are more likely to take ownership of their work, collaborate effectively, and find creative solutions to problems. Middle managers should provide support and resources while avoiding unnecessary micromanagement. This enables teams to adapt quickly to changing requirements and improves their overall performance.

3.     Balance with Necessary Control: While trust and autonomy are essential, Middle managers also need to maintain a certain level of control to ensure alignment with organizational goals. They should establish well-defined boundaries and guidelines, ensuring that teams operate within the agreed-upon frameworks. This includes periodic check-ins, progress reviews, and monitoring of key metrics to ensure that projects are on track. However, control should be exercised in a way that doesn’t stifle creativity or hinder the agility of teams.

We look at our principles in the same manner as the Agile manifesto. Although we value the items on the right (Control) we value the items on the left more (Trust).

By Cliff de Laat

I have been involved in many organizations that have made the transition to an Agile way-of-working. In the role of either manager, program/project manager, product owner, or team member. In my personal experience, there was one key factor, one make-or-break role making the Agile way-of-working a dream or a living nightmare. This is the middle manager, team leader, department manager, etc. 

They either support or hinder success. Their role involves executing tasks at a tactical level, managing teams, and developing talent. As a consultant, I have heard colleagues at other firms criticize these managers as redundant or a waste of resources. My personal opinion differs significantly. In Agile contexts, middle managers play a crucial role in facilitating effective communication, fostering collaboration, and ensuring that Agile principles and practices are upheld. The following reasons explain the value of middle management: 

  1. Bridging the Gap: Middle managers translate organizational goals into actionable plans for Agile teams, aligning strategic objectives with Agile initiatives. 
  2. Facilitating Communication: They serve as communication channels between senior leadership, Agile teams, and stakeholders, ensuring alignment and resolving conflicts. 
  3. Supporting Team Autonomy: Middle managers provide resources, guidance, and mentorship to empower self-organizing teams, removing obstacles and fostering innovation. 
  4. Promoting Agile Mindset: They advocate for Agile principles, educate stakeholders, and champion successful Agile implementations to foster an adaptive culture. 
  5. Aligning Performance Management: Middle managers align individual and team goals with organizational objectives, providing coaching and feedback to foster growth. 

The middle manager is critical to the success of an agile department. I have witnessed successful managers identifying when to intervene and when to enable their teams to resolve problems. In my recent experience, I have seen some managers act as the spokesperson for the team, thereby relieving the team of accountability for their actions. As I believe that many organizations and middle managers struggle with making the right decisions, I felt the need to contribute to the community. 

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing a few principles on my LinkedIn that can serve as a kind of Middle Manager Manifesto (MMM, no pun intended 😁). I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences. Let’s support our middle managers to make our companies successful with them as our hero leaders! 💪 

Anderson MacGyver

The core purpose of Anderson MacGyver is to harness the unrealized business value for our clients by leveraging the powerful potential of technology & data. We provide strategic advice and guidance to board members and senior management to shape and drive their digital journey.