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Big Data, Big Innovation: Enabling Competitive Differentiation through Business Analytics by Evan Stubbs

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Chapter 3The Cultural Imperative

There’s an excellent passage in Pirsig’s book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, where he talks of the relative value of a screw.1 Screws are cheap. They’re so cheap that they’re practically inconspicuous. When they’re working, they’re invisible. It’s only when they don’t that we care.

An interest in quality can emerge anywhere, even in repairing a motorcycle. At some stage, everyone has stripped a screw. Normally, it’s just irritating. When that screw holds the engine compartment shut, though, its relative importance changes. It may have once been a 10-cent screw. Now, its value is roughly equivalent to the resale value of your bike; if you can’t get that screw out, your bike is worthless. And with that epiphany, you’ve probably suddenly become very interested in screws.

Culture’s the same. When culture’s supportive, it’s invisible. It’s only when it’s an inhibitor that we notice it. Analytics is possible without a supportive culture; every organization has largely disliked cowboys that it still values. Business analytics, however, is a different game. Value only comes from getting people to work together. That’s only possible when people agree on what it is they’re chasing.

This chapter covers the cultural imperative, as shown in Figure 3.1. It describes the five perspectives on how information supports innovation and creates value.

Figure 3.1 The Cultural Imperative

Every organization exhibits one or more of these to varying ...

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