The difference between an average organization and a great organization is the quality of daily decisions made by individuals within the organization.

The same principles apply to all facets of life. Ultimately, your decisions on the use of your time, energy, and capacity will determine the value that you produce for society. This applies to both individuals and groups of people.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins discusses the Stockdale Paradox. The Stockdale paradox underlines the importance of understanding the meaning of brutal facts in decision-making and goal-setting. Collins writes about the experience of Admiral James Stockdale as a prisoner of war. Stockdale survived 8 years of uncertainty by stoically confronting the fact of the reality of his situation. Whereas many of his fellow prisoners “died of a broken heart”.

The lesson from Admiral Stockdale was that hope is not a strategy for long term survival. “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be”.

The disappointment of misplaced hope will eventually extinguish your motivation to reach your goal, and in the case of prisoners, it can extinguish your will to live.

So, what’s the relationship to business Intelligence, data warehousing, and management reporting?

The hope of reaching an organizational goal is only achieved by acting on the true meaning of key facts, which are then built on one another to produce knowledge. A simple example is how the definition of the sound of letters build words with meaning, which then construct sentences that enable the transfer of knowledge through paragraphs.

The collective understanding of key datapoints in your data ecosystem aggregate to produce insights on the true reality of your situation, which in turn create decision points that will determine the long-term sustainability of your organization.

A key competitive advantage of data hubs, data warehouses, and business intelligence solutions is the consistency of insight meaning produced through visualizations that can be derived for collective decision making. Those insights derived from brutal facts can be actioned to enable the steps to achieve a goal. This is in contract to relying on hope that your situation will change in time which will ultimately consume valuable time and resources. Consistent failed hope will exhaust your organization’s collective motivation.

Hope is not a strategy. The antidote to the exhaustion of hope is to determine clear meaning from the brutal actionable facts. Brutal actionable facts are what your datahub, data warehouse, and business intelligence systems provide.

Clear meaning of facts will feed your daily actions, and your daily actions then determine the sustainability of your organization through the efficient allocation of resources. The value of good decision making is unquantifiable; a string of good decisions provides you with a compounded advantage. This is the underlying competitive advantage of business intelligence and a cohesive data ecosystem: the production of competitive advantage knowledge.

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