Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tableau - A grassroots movement changing organizational culture..

Working at Tableau I have had the firsthand experience of seeing organizational transformation from the ground up. Individuals / middle managers / teams etc. irrespective of their title or authority are changing the culture at large multinational organizations. This has been eye opening and fascinating to watch. Groups / individuals by leveraging Tableau feel empowered to change the status quo. They feel relevant and are able to make a difference. Slowly but steadily, through word of mouth, the change begins.

Having never witnessed anything like this in all my years in software, I've been very curious on whether this is  a new phenomenon or is there a precedence to this.

I started by looking back at how transformation has traditionally occurred in Organizations. Most transformations were always top down.

They followed the McKinsey's 7S model



Kotler's 8 Step Process

The challenge with these models was usually in getting people to change, these transformations were expensive, they took a long time and were not always successful. We always talked about People, Process, Technology and while companies might figure out the Technology and Process, the People part was always tricky. People don't like change. They don't like being told my management about what to do.

At Tableau our customers have reversed this and made it more of a bottoms up process. This got me to thinking - Is there another option for businesses as far as organizational change goes. The answer, seems to be yes. Being curious about this phenomena, I spent some time doing research into what causes grassroots movements, what is changing in our society that makes this possible today and how can organizations apply this.

Here are my thoughts -

1. Tableau has been adopted by the masses because it aligned closely with the beliefs of the end user (not just IT or executives). These were the actual people affect by the change. - Check out this video by Simon Sinek that talks about this phenomenon.

2. We are in a time in society where end users are looking to be empowered, looking to connect with like minded people and want to change the status quo. Tribes are changing society. We've heard people say that Tableau users are passionate about Tableau. This is because they are like minded people that are changing the BI status quo at organizations. Tribes are the new change agent.

3. So if organizations want to know how movements start, here is a good example of one in action. The key point to remember though, is that if it does not align with the beliefs of the tribe, it will just be a fad and the masses will move on to the next bright shiny object.

So what does this mean for organizations? How do they create their own Grassroots movements?

There is no easy answer for this. The advantage that Tableau has, is that we have nailed the Process and Technology part of the People/Process/Technology triumvirate. We've created software that any end user can relate to and use with minimal support. We fit extremely well into existing processes (you can connect to your Excel workbooks and get going immediately). We do things 10x better/faster than the status quo, so the users are willing to make the change. The impact is obvious. Once the end users start using Tableau, they want to talk to others in their tribe, show off their creations and thus the movement starts. First with the Innovators and then with the Early Adopters and soon the Early Majority.

Would love to hear other cases where Technology was able to start a grassroots movement in your organization..