read more widely
August 17, 2018

Lessons learnt by leaders, from experience, 3 reasons to read more widely

By Paul Laughlin

As we continue our month focussed on lessons learnt by leaders, from experience, I’ve found 3 reasons to read more widely.

Thanks for guest bloggers, Tony Boobier & Annette Franz who has already shared their lessons learnt. In addition to that, you’ve had opportunity to hear about the experience of Norma Dove-Edwin, Martin Squires and Jason Bartram in our audio interviews. More of them to come this year.

Having already shared by personal lesson learned, regarding protecting some of your technical stars from performance management, this time I’ve collated lessons from other blogs. In this post, I share 3 posts from other blogs that I believe evidence important lessons learnt. In line with the title of this post they are deliberately diverse, as I hope they encourage you to read more widely.

We’ve previously shared the importance of keeping a weather eye on trends for data & analytics leaders. Responding to the impact of GDPR, guest blogger William Buist also encouraged us to keep our eyes open for future external changes.

So, I hope this post is both interesting and continues to encourage that “think global, act local” mindset in customer insight leaders.

For lessons learnt, read more widely: (1) Spy Agencies

Of all the sectors I might encourage you to keep in view, I suspect intelligence agencies (spies) were not top of your list. However, this post, summarising a talk by Jim Hare at Gartner’s annual Data & Analytics Summit makes a good case for learning lessons from spy masters.

Rather than praising the US Intelligence Community, his first lesson learnt is not to make the same mistakes. But, his other points are interesting. There is still potential in open source data & more companies are developing in-house academies to develop their talent. His concepts of continuous intelligence & rating reliability of sources, remind me of the lessons analytics teams can learn from research teams. They are also a reminder as to the criticality of metadata management.

So, put on your dark glasses & raincoat, let’s learn from spies…

Data and analytics strategy: Lessons learned from spy agencies

By a CIO and more like the CIA, said Jim Hare, research vice president at Gartner. At this week’s Gartner Data and Analytics Summit, Hare detailed four best practices from the U.S. Intelligence Community — and one caution — that can improve an enterprise’s data and analytics strategy.

For lessons learnt, read more widely: (2) Sports, Healthcare & Education

Don’t worry, I’m not really prescribing a long list of other sectors you need to follow. Rather, I want to encourage out-of-sector thinking more generally.

A helpful example of the benefits of such broader conversation is this post shared by MIT Sloan School of Management. In it, Meredith Somers shares lessons learnt from the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

One of the benefits I’ve discovered each year when chairing the Data Leaders Summit, or attending DataIQ Conversation events, is hearing from other sectors. At this event, as well as hearing lessons from analytics leaders in American Football, leaders in Healthcare & Education shared how these principles worked for them.

Well worth reading for lessons on the need to adapt, influence & think strategically…

For lessons learnt, read more widely: (3) Learn from failures too

When searching for the latest best leadership book, or attending mega conferences, it can be easy to be drawn to success stories. But, sometimes there is more to be learnt from failures.

We’ve shared before how leaders learn from their own mistakes (but don’t dwell on them) and lessons to be learn from common project failures. In this post, Simply Statistics blogger Roger Peng, reflects on a major academic failure. The Duke Saga exposed a lack of statistical rigour and failure of peer review that mislead cancer patients.

His thoughtful review of what went wrong has lessons for leaders well beyond academia. It is an important reminder that trust and relationships between analysts and business leaders matter hugely. Quality and collaboration will suffer when there is distrust or working in isolation.

I think this post is a useful reminder to both seek to learn from mistakes and also to read academics, who share relevant lessons for insight leaders. Judge for yourself…

What can we learn from data analysis failures?

Back in February, I gave a talk at the Walter and Eliza Hall Research Institute in Melbourne titled “Lessons in Disaster: What Can We Learn from Data Analysis Failures?” This talk was quite different from talks that I usually give on computing or environmental health and I’m guessing it probably showed.

For lessons learnt: do you read more widely?

I hope those three posts sparked your own creative thinking. Beyond your normal sources, where else might you hear or read insights to inform your leadership.

If you’ve previously learnt and important leadership lessons from other sectors or unusual sources – please share your wisdom. As always you can share in the comments boxes below or on social media.