Changing The Tires On A Moving Car … And Other Impossible Things

When building a marketing and sales data strategy, operations teams don’t have the luxury of designing from scratch. You don’t get to whiteboard out clean process flows and design a fresh tech stack. Business is already in progress, and more than likely, the resources in your organization most responsible for marketing and sales data are already stretched thin.

You’ve heard it before — you’re changing the tires on a moving car. You’re fixing the bus while driving it. You’re repairing the wings of the plane while flying in it. I once had a CEO devote a year to the ongoing analogy that we were rebuilding our bus while we traveled, one part at a time, until we would eventually be riding in a high-speed train. I’ve got to admit, no matter how many times he explained that one … I still had questions.

Regardless of your preferred vehicle, the shared message behind each of these overused analogies is the need to accomplish something difficult, something complex, something where the conditions and requirements are constantly in flux and the answers to your data quality issues have so far eluded you.

An Effective Data Strategy Process Is Not A Recipe — It’s a Menu

When working with Forrester Decisions clients to enhance their data strategy, I do my best to avoid oversimplifying the task. No process can document in advance the specific steps your business will need to take to overcome your data challenges. The issues B2B companies face are highly custom, and the process we use is not a step-by-step recipe for success. Rather, it is a menu from which operations teams can select the elements that most directly address their needs. Most activities in the process are diagnostic in nature, designed to help each business better understand their needs, their gaps, their distinct roadblocks, and their most effective path forward.

So How Do We Change The Tires On A Moving Car?

We don’t. It’s a dumb analogy. Achieving the necessary data quality to accelerate our business isn’t impossible. The fact that data quality is a perpetual challenge for most businesses isn’t evidence that it has to be that way. We just need a realistic process and an appropriate prioritization of resources to achieve real change.

To understand how to “change tires” while maintaining our greatest possible speed, we need to look no further than auto racing to understand how it looks in practice. While drivers make constant adjustments to speeds and lines through corners to adjust to on-track conditions, every so often, the car needs to come into the pit to execute a more significant change. We need our data strategy processes to recognize and balance these same two distinct motions:

  • Ongoing execution. These are the in-flight adjustments we make to our routines to improve ongoing performance. These are the minor process tweaks, the ongoing training, the improved insight gathering that makes our data management a little more effective every week.
  • Cyclical planning. These are the planned pit stops that allow us to scope and implement more significant adjustments. Here is the focused time for decision-makers to take meaningful action on surfaced issues that are too large to tackle in flight.

Forrester Decisions for Revenue Operations clients now have access to our redesigned B2B Marketing And Sales Data Strategy Implementation Process. This process reflects these two distinct business motions. It identifies the best-practice improvements that businesses can make to their existing data management, domain insight gathering, and team enablement between planning cycles. It also defines cyclical planning, where focused attention on governance, compliance, and technology allows teams to make more significant leaps forward in their data capabilities. To learn more about how to leverage this process in your own business, Forrester clients can connect with the revenue operations analyst team for guidance and access to our full library of published research on the topic.