A million things can go wrong when you deal with data or technology. Integrating business and technology requires ingenuity, discipline and fortitude. But most important is critical thinking, something we need to teach more at every level of our system of higher education. It’s a skill we must demand in business.
And it all starts with leadership.
I coined the term “single-click consultant” out of frustration during my consulting days more than a decade ago. It has stuck with me since then because it was not the only time I had seen this type of thinking.
Back In the Day
I was leading a team of technology consultants on a typical business intelligence (BI) engagement, which is like running a restaurant: You need to keep a close eye on the dining room as well as the kitchen. We ran into a data issue with one of the key management reports.
Having put out a similar fire before, I wanted to check one of the automated jobs to see if it loaded the new data, so I asked for an update.
“The job was successful,” a consultant replied. I followed up and received the same self-assured reply. Finally, when I asked for the supporting evidence to see if data was actually present in the database, the consultant came back with a response as confident as the first one: “The status light is green.”
It turns out that the logic updating the status light was flawed, the database was empty and the green light meant nothing. The consultant’s response and his false sense of confidence baffled me. Clicking a button—hence the term—is not how we add value. I can see that the light is green; I don’t need a consultant to tell me that.
Beyond the First Click
Whether we are designing, managing or leading, we need to think five clicks ahead, not one. We need to analyze five dimensions and drop none. This mind-set applies to any business, any role or any job in business or technology.
It is not the first click that counts. What matters is what lies beyond that first click. We must understand our assumptions and carefully examine the evidence based on solid data relevant to the question at stake before reaching any conclusion or making any decision.
Bottom line: Start setting an example.
If you are on the receiving end, don’t just accept what you’re given. Demand a second look! If 2 + 2 does not add up to 4 or if your gut says something is out of place, ask for a second explanation. Creativity has its place, but it’s not here.
If you are leading a team, don’t tolerate single-click consulting. Discourage it!
If you are in charge of managing a process, don’t allow single-click consulting. Eliminate it!
There is never a stupid question, never shame in asking. Asking questions ignites the critical-thinking process, which is a prerequisite to asking the right questions.
DISCLAIMER: All characters appearing in this blog post are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons or businesses, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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