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Getting It Done & Executive Information Systems (2of2)

May 27, 2011

This is the 2nd half of a blog about how people in management tend to
interact with their Executive Information System in the process of
getting things done on a daily basis.  There’s some major hiccups that
occur regularly.  In the last blog, I looked at the phenomenon of treating
your EIS like a high maintenance trophy date, and the predictable outcomes
that ensue.  See if the two factors in this blog resonate with you as well.

Ok, so beyond dating fantasies, here’s the next most common thing I see
when it comes to interacting with EISs.  EIS require maintenance, which
translates to upkeep after the initial shine wears off.  After the initial data
input and organization has been completed.  When it comes to updating,
well, most people feel like documenting, that is putting data into an
EIS system, is a big drag.  Why?

I started out thinking that maybe it is a value issue.  That is, the software is
capable, it’s just that most people don’t have the time, interest, or more
importantly, see it as valuable enough to spend the time keeping the EIS updated.

Then I noticed that most people will write emails daily, which is another
form of documenting, and not experience the same resistance.  In fact
the same person may spend hours a day responding to email, but struggle
with and resist spending 30 minutes updating information into an EIS.

That got me looking at the satisfaction curve and the types of thought
Stay with me, I’m not going to get technical, but emails are
completed largely because we are requesting something (the front side of
the satisfaction curve
), or we are engaging in a response to another
person… again because we are in the midst of trying to get something
completed or worked out.

Documenting into an EIS doesn’t have the familiar call and response
cadence to it, and it often involves an entirely different method of
… analytic thought, reflection, sorting, synthesizing and generating
a conclusion.  Boy, that sounds like a lot more work than responding to an
email, doesn’t it?  It is.  And it gets worse.

Documenting often falls on the backside of the satisfaction curve.
You’re reporting or writing up something that has already happened.
The emotional momentum is declining.

So now where are we if you’re the person in management I’m writing about?
1. You need an EIS to make good decisions,
2. You have a conflictual “dating relationship” with EIS software,
3. You avoid asking about updates because you know your people don’t want
to do them.

So now what, Mr./Mrs. manager, executive?  Even if you don’t have a formal
EIS in place, you still have a need for visibility, planning, prioritization and

So what happens next? I regularly see two more things… are up still reading?:

1. Most people in management are extroverted, so they engage in talking,
meetings, and more talking.  From a Myers-Briggs perspective, extroverts
need to talk to think (Introverts usually need quiet time to think).  Talking
becomes the
informal EIS system.  The EIS system becomes dependent
on talking and memory, and typically a review of financials.  That’s it.  Why
update when you can talk…  or

2. Instead of engaging in more talking, executives update their EIS system
by “doing it
themselves.”  They  shift focus (away from developing/
using an EIS system) and get busy  working on making money, rolling up
their sleeves, or getting directly involved.  Gerber would say they go back
to working “In the business
” and avoid working “On the business”
(which often requires a better EIS system) …  until the next pain point surfaces.

Bottom Line:

Everyone who is in management uses some form of an EIS system.  When
it comes to getting things done, you’ll have a better track record if you get
committed to developing and MAINTAINING a really effective EIS.   Along
the way you will run into some predictable distractions such as: the drudgery
of documenting after the fact; the substitution of meetings and talking for
a documented EIS system; and/or the tendency to just go get busy on
something else.   Or you might find that a better solution is simply to
outsource it to someone else.  Outsource the documenting, updating and
maintainenance of your EIS system.  Take a look at our Meeting Management
as an example.

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