Data Driven Business Transformation – How to disrupt, innovate and stay a head of the competition.

Data Driven Business Transformation – How to disrupt, innovate and stay a head of the competition.

Author: Peter Jackson & Caroline Carruthers
Review by: Michelle Parry-Slater

When The HR Director asked for reviewers for this book, my hand shot straight up. I have a several interests in data and transformation right now, as I am working on a data & metrics project with one client and a digital learning transformation project with another. There are very few books out there which really get to grips with either of those challenges, particularly in relation to learning and development.  I tell you this, fair reader, to declare my bias. I wanted this book to be brilliant. Do you ever read the blurb on the back of a book and it raises your expectations?

My biased driving force was crushed in the first few pages, when I realised this book was not about data and metrics, nor about digital transformation;

“Some organisations speak of ‘digital transformation’, in the main because we have been confused about what digital actually is. It is a frequently used term that is commonly
mis-understood.” (page 5)

I share this vulnerability because other readers of this cleverly constructed book may also make the same mistake. Fear not, dear reader, Carruthers & Jackson are not pointing this out to laugh at your ignorance. Rather they use this starting position as a marker to take you through all the different meanings, the details, and the understanding. They educate the reader in the minutiae in a well thought out and clear way.

This book is about transformation of your business, and puts data at the heart of both the business and transformation. There is a list of the hurdles faced by organisations when it comes to data which reinforces that this book really is a practical handbook to data. It goes on to talk about drivers for transformation and who should drive the change;

“Most business transformation for the past two decades has been driven by technology…much transformation has been ‘done to’ the business so that staff don’t feel part of it: and human beings are really good at digging their heels in when they feel like they don’t have a say in what is happening to them.” (page 16)

It was at this point I realised that although I thought my expectations were not going to be met, they really are – people are at the heart of any organisation, and this book puts people at the heart of business transformation. I knew I was going to like the rest of the book. What I ended up really liking is the business focus to the transformation through data,
rather than the digital focus of the transformation I am experiencing in my client work. It felt like Carruthers & Jackson’s approach, if applied, would be more successful, given people were at the heart, not technology. The book is full of tips and advice, which are offered in a generous and engaging way. The authors have a cute sense of humour and their writing style is very accessible. There are loads of rhetorical questions, which I know is not everyone’s favourite way of writing, but they do get you thinking. There is not a lot of external content input – the advice and the suggestions are the authors’, and given they present it so accessibly, I don’t see anything wrong with that at all. It really feels like they have written this book with readers in mind. They are the experts, and they share their expertise well.

I did find some of the layout of the book interesting. The sub headings to the paragraphs were immensely helpful, as were the list of reflective questions which regularly popped up. A few of the chapters are braced with quotes, which can be useful to see how others are dealing with this ‘stuff’, but there is no bibliography; I suppose as the book is very much the opinions of the very credible authors, the quotes used have relevance in forming their story. The quotes however seem oddly laid out, in larger type and with a lot of spacing. Whilst this makes the book look longer than it is, and perhaps aids speedy reading, I would rather kill less trees and be comfortable that the book has immense value without needing to try to be something bigger than it is. The larger font for the quotes almost makes them more important than the authors’ interpretation and response to them, which for me was a distraction. The value of this book is the author’s ability to make sense of all this for the reader. I feel the publishers have not helped their message get across in a quest for a wider book for shelf presence. Overall however this is a very minor niggle of a very useful book which I would see readers coming back to time and time again as they steady themselves through the sea of change around business transformation. #Recommended!

Michelle Parry-Slater, L&D Director, Kairos Modern Learning

Published by Wiley