The massive amounts of data that are being spewed out by IT systems has created whole fields of business analytics and business intelligence for executives to make decisions.  Better data, mined data, etc. is a call to make useful. what is not.

To turn information into knowledge we need three things:

  1. Customer Measures
  2. Context
  3. Data (and a way to interpret it)

Context is knowing what is happening in you system that gives us a clue in why our system operates the way that it does.  Getting an understanding of the “what and why” of current performance (performing “check using the Vanguard Method).   To do this you have to go to the work at the points of transaction and get knowledge on what the customer purpose is (or what matters to customers). 

What ever you do, don’t rely on reports or computer generated data.  They have no context to help you learn what you need to get knowledge.

Armed with customer purpose, the next step is to derive customer measures from this purpose.  A good example of this can be seen in Getting the Benefits

Measures focused on the customer get rid of all the functional measures and in-fighting that happens.  Financial measures are lagging in nature and customer measures can drive value for customers, and therefore, profit or for government management – reduced spending.  This presents a management paradox in business improvement or cost reduction.

I have long been a proponent of  using SPC (statistical process control) and have a post that is one of my most read posts – Service Metrics: What You Need to Understand.  I won’t belabor the point except to say if you are not charting data, you stand to tamper (make wrong decisions) on data.

So there you have it, a systems thinking approach to getting knowledge.  Becuase information just isn’t good enough.

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Make the new decade a profitable and rewarding one, start a new path here.  Download free from “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about how to get started at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at LinkedIn at

Tripp Babbitt is a columist (Quality Digest and IQPC), speaker, and consultant to private and public service industry.