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Getting it Done and Executive Information Systems (1of2)

May 26, 2011

As a coach and consultant, I’ve worked with a number of executives
on the process of “Getting it Done” given their business realities.
One of the strongest indicators I have found for predicting success…
and self  destruction, was the maturity of  their “Executive
Information System (EIS).”
I think we all need one and make use
of one, in one form or another.   See if  the next couple of observations
help you get more value out of your EIS.

Think of an Executive Information System (EIS) as something that helps you
make good decisions based upon your ability to collect, process and review
information from a GTD perspective.  We all function with an EIS system,
formal or informal, whether we are in management or not.

But I’m talking to people in management in this blog, and the further up the
management chain, and the more far reaching the impact of decisions being
made, you might think that there would be more sophisticated EIS’s being used.

You might think that; I used to think that.
Think again and let’s look at why.

There certainly is a more likely chance that the executive team will have
purchased some type of EIS system.  Some way to keep track of it all. But
when it comes to actually confirming it is current and being actively used,
as Ira Gershwin penned it, “It ain’t necessarily so.”

Three observations have emerged that have changed my thinking about
what’s going on in this process, let’s see if you agree.

1. First of all, what I notice about many executives is that they view/treat
Executive Information Systems they buy, like ManagePro, as sort of a
conflictual, high maintenance dating relationship.  They want it,
and yet they struggle with it.  They engage and then pull back.  They idealize
about how great it will be, and they struggle with the effort required
(hassle factor) to get people to maintain it – isn’t that built into the software? 😉

This creates sort of a “serial dating” process with software (love ’em &
leave ’em, or love/hate – whichever phrase works best for you).  Each time
there’s this attraction, idealization phase in which the preson is thinking
the EIS software is going to be wonderful.  And then there’s the reality
at some point that all relationships involve work, and everyone else isn’t
as infatuated with your “new software date” as you are.  It becomes work,
and work does not in any way resemble the glamerous date envisioned
above, does it?  So it’s on to next.

This leads to part of what Joe Stangerlone noted in a recent blog, ”
According to a  recent survey, the cost of unused software on US
businesses alone is a whopping
$12.3 billion a year.  Shocking, isn’t it?”

Serial dating is pervasive when it comes to management and Executive
Information Systems.  It is driven by that common whipsaw of excitement
and fantasy surrounding the new purchase, followed by the tedium of
entering data.

It’s expensive and it impacts the culture (the observing kids), where staff
get reinforced for not getting too attached.  But if you pull back the sheets,
there are two additional forces that also impact executive’s relationships
with their EIS.  I’ll cover that in a follow-up blog tomorrow.

Bottom Line:

Everyone who is in management uses some form of an EIS system.  When it
comes to getting it done, you’ll have a better track record if you get
committed to developing a really effective EIS.  However one of the forces that
stands in the way of everyone in management is the love-hate relationship
people often form with software, leading to the “serial dating” experience
and buying yet “another” package.  Is this you?  If so, it’s a pattern you’ll
want to break out of if you want to excel at Getting Things Done.

8 Comments. Leave new

Hi Nice and informative article..

This is one of the articles that i encounter that i really understand well..Can you post more article about this…Thank you so much..


As a web developer and designer who has worked in a managerial position with a design and development team under my supervision, I have see this happen countless times. Once you gain some measure of experience using different software programs, you come to learn that there is no magical push button solution to efficient project management. No matter how great a software seems in its videos or ad copy, the best way to demystify it is to really use a trial version and take it through real world exercises. Then you will see what it can do and whether it can help you in your particular scenario.


Before purchasing any software wouldn’t be advisable to consult a professional IT person? I mean $12.3 Billion a year for un-used software is ridiculous. What is done with that software anyway, does it just get destroyed or does it get re-package to sell again? An EIS that is correct for you is a very important tool for any business person and this article has been a real eye opener.


Hi Denise, Good question about what happens to old software. It slips into that space occupied by boxes, paper printouts, old disks and past memory. Too bad there isn’t a way to recycle all that energy put into it more effectively. Consulting IT isn’t a panacea either, although it can help you avoid making easy to recognize mistakes. I’ve worked with lots of organizations, including the United Nations, where getting accepted by the IT department turned out to be such a difficult gate-keeper exercise that it created all sorts of costs in loss of momentum and results, that weren’t offset by the value of getting the IT OK stamp of approval. The key to making good software decisions isn’t tied to one step or one internal business group is it?


This is some information that I think my upper management team needs, just the insight I received from it made a world of difference in the way I thought about EIS so I know it can help them as well. Thanks for posting such informative material I will pass this on right away.


Great information here on the EIS usage. And you are absolutely correct when you were telling Denise that it isn’t necessarily a good thing to get the stamp of approval from IT. As you pointed out this can sometimes can be an act of congress to get that stamp of approval. If you want a EIS software to use the best thing to do is go research them and invest your own resources in it because you are going to be the one to benefit.


It’s nice for you to discuss about Executive Information System. All information are clear and relevant. Thanks for posting this.


This was very interesting to say the least, I have sat back and watched countless managers do just this when it come to the software that they use. Being in the IT department I am constantly called on to come fix a problem that occurs when they are trying to do something with their software and they didn’t understand what they need to do or they didn’t have the patience it takes to get the information they wanted from the software. I think more mangers need to do more extensive research before purchasing a software for EIS and when they do finally decide on one read the information that comes with it before using it.


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