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Using Culture as a KPI

People are the primary BI technology. It’s as important to plan the cultural changes for personnel as it is to plan the hardware and software related to BI deployments. An information-driven culture is one in which information is considered a strategic asset within the organization.

When we think of culture we tend to think of things that can be difficult to measure – music, for example, or philosophy.  When it comes to BI culture, though, we can’t think of it in abstract terms; we need to measure, track, and improve it if we want to use it as part of an information-driven organization.

If we consider that culture is “the system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their world and with one another,” it becomes much easier to measure some of those seemingly intangible assets.  If we apply this definition of culture to Business Intelligence we find there are four distinct areas to be measured:


[Source: Manon Guillemette, Sherbrooke University, Quebec]

In each of these areas the organization’s beliefs are expressed through values, and acting on those values results in measurable artifacts.  If you’re trying to encourage a robust BI culture in your organization it can be helpful to examine each area in turn to see what artifacts you should measure.

Collaboration and sharing


  • Beliefs – All team members should use their expertise and knowledge to contribute to the success of the organization
  • Values – Collaboration, sharing, transparency
  • Artifacts – Collaborative IT, decentralization, teamwork, collaboration incentive systems



  • Beliefs – It is necessary to consult, understand, and use information intelligently to survive and make good decisions
  • Values – Analytic curiosity, value of information, rational thinking
  • Artifacts – IT team for managing information, data access, information governance policies



  • Beliefs – Pursuing and attaining precise performance objectives are necessary for overall organizational success
  • Values – Responsibility, autonomy, performance evaluation, competition
  • Artifacts – Strategic plan, profitability evaluation, performance indicators, incentive systems



  • Beliefs – Innovation is essential to create value, differentiate from the competition, and survive in the long term
  • Values – Creativity, continuous learning, anticipation, agility
  • Artifacts – Flexible structures and roles, benchmarking, training programs

By identifying and measuring the artifacts in place in your organization that best represent the key components of your BI culture you can more accurately assess how BI is perceived and you can look for ways to further the adoption of a pervasive BI culture.

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