Perfect BI tool is one that people actually use

The perfect BI tool is one that people actually use, says Frank Buytendijk. He’s found one.

It’s a Nike chip he puts in his running shoe. It collects data on distance and time. It makes a game of running.

“I hate sports,” he said. He’s stocky. “[The chip] is perfect because it makes the boring exciting.”

His new 10 kilometers-a-day jogging habit had been well established when one morning he came home early. His wife asked, “Is it raining?” No, his battery had run down. Without the data, there was no point to running.

In his Monday morning presentation at the TDWI conference in Chicago — the best TDWI keynote I’ve ever heard — he used just two slides. His red shoelaces, against his all-black outfit, were more visible than PowerPoint. Instead, he told good stories — and the audience was rapt.

One morning, he said, he ran through a red light — and later paid a 35-euro fine — because stopping would have ruined his average. A show of hands in the audience confirmed his normalcy.

People want to do as well as they can. Why do managers so often fail to encourage better performance? Why do they insist on passion-killing top-down performance control? He believes it’s from laziness and ineptitute.

Other passion killers include accountability pushed too far, stressing system goals at the expense of higher, big-picture goals.

Also, many managers have forgotten what really drives performance: passion. Performance is “a matter of the heart,” he said. What works better is to strive for a higher, inspiring value that people believe in. Results show up as revenue and profit, but it’s better to look at the value delivered.

Best performance comes from correct targets, which leads to indicators that marry corporate goals with personal ones. “With the right indicators,” he said, “we can change the behavior of both.”

Read his book, Performance Leadership: The Next Practices to Motivate Your People, Align Stakeholders, and Lead Your Industry (2008; McGraw-Hill).

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