Thursday, May 27, 2021

D=>K=>I=>A/A/A…. A foundational “formula” for success!



As a guy that does gravitate to formulas, processes and repeatable management disciplines, this essay has been brewing for a while.  A few weeks ago, I had a great conversation with a young friend Meg, who was interviewing for a number of very different roles.  In that conversation, we focused in on the fact that while the roles were very different (one in a small non-profit, one in a large ad agency), the actual “foundational work” of the roles had some clear similarities and those common ideas triggered this essay.  Regardless of your role, or nature of the organization where you work, these simple ideas or process steps are incredibly common and deeply important in order to drive successful sustainable results.


The foundational formula/process/discipline is made up of a set of actions that are done in sequence, and follow the path of: 


Data->Knowledge->Insights-> Action/Assess/Apply


D: Data


Noun: facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis:


The first step is always to dig into the data…. and never get tired or bored, it always worth it!  I for example pull together a weekly performance dashboard for my leadership team, and rather than have someone in IT or finance pull it for me, I take an hour every Monday digging into last weeks results and building the dashboard myself.  I find that weekly process so helpful and EVERY WEEK I find little nuggets of trends, aberrations and surprises that allow me to understand where we are as a business and what actions we need to take going forward.  This first step, all about the data, is a step EVERYONE should do!  Don't let a fear of Math, or a lack of formal “data analytics training” stop you from diving in…. a vital and REQUIRED first step in this “foundational formula!”


K: Knowledge


Noun: facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject


By taking the step above and consistently digging into the data, we can gain knowledge and a deeper “understanding of a subject.”  Data on its’ own is relatively inert.  The purpose of the data dig “experience” is to gain understanding and build knowledge over time so you “convert” the data into actionable insights.


I: Insights


Noun: a deep understanding of a person or thing


Having a “deep understanding” of the work at hand is the big part of finding success.  While this evolves over time, the process steps reviewed above allow you to always be updating YOUR “deep understanding” of the business and will push you to take those thoughts/ideas and translate them into action!





A: Action


Noun: the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim


Take action, its time to have an impact!  Don't let the D->K->I phase lull you into passivity or inactivity.  This whole “foundational formula/process” is about taking thoughtful action in the marketplace and the “first A” is vital.  This step takes insights (mentioned above) AND COURAGE.  Step out there, make your recommendation be heard and drive to action!


A: Assess


Noun: evaluate or estimate the nature, ability, or quality of


With the “Action” step fully in-place, lets make sure we are ready to “evaluate” and learn from the “Action” deployed.  We can never learn enough, but too many skip this step entirely.  The amount of work to get the “Action” deployed is often so significant, many “run out of gas” at this step and lose energy to “evaluate” the impact/costs/ROI/etc. of the “Action” and fail to glean very available and much needed additional “Data” to help this process strengthen over time.  Many of you have read my essay on the “Curbside Debrief”

This tool is a handy way to ALWAYS take a step to “Assess” or learn after every significant “Action.”

A: Apply


Noun: give one's full attention to a task; work hard, administer


This final step as another call to turn learnings into “Action.”  If you have “Assessed” the impact of “Action,” once again don't get passive!  Turn those ideas or approaches into immediate improvement plans and deploy…. No need to wait and start the process again, dive in and “Apply” those learnings and drive success!



Well there you go, the simple ( and vital) D->K->I->A/A/A model.  I hope you can use it in your work, whatever the organization / industry and let it have a positive impact of the challenges of the moment, and help you be more successful with your challenges/opportunities over time!