Time for a Mojo Check: Is Data on Your Balance Sheet?


It was just about a year ago that I posted Three Signs Your Company May Be Losing Its Mojo on this site. The blog, which ran on Forbes.com about a month later, struck a chord.

For many of us, it seems that the loss of mojo is akin to losing our edge… our hipness…  our direction…  to going on autopilot. I know it is for me.

And, let’s face it, in today’s world, where things are changing faster than ever before, maintaining your mojo isn’t just something those en vogue should care about; it’s essential really for any company (and any individual) that wants to compete successfully in The Second Machine Age.Recent history is replete with examples of companies that have lost their ways… their mojo… their relevancy… and either haven’t been able to find their way back or have found it very difficult to do so (e.g., Blackberry, Blockbuster, Sony, JC Penney, and Barnes & Nobles come to mind*). There’s also a decent-sized list of companies that have lost their way but were able to get their mojo back (yep, Apple).

In his book The Other Side of Innovation, Dartmouth Tuck’s School of Business professor Vijay Govidnarajan describes three common mistakes that trip up many businesses.  Rick Newnan, U.S. News chief business correspondent, summarizes them nicely in his article “10 Great Companies That Lost Their Edge**:

  1. “The physical trap, in which big investments in old systems or equipment prevent the pursuit of fresher, more relevant investments.
  2. The psychological trap, in which a leaders fixate on what made them successful and fail to notice when something new is displacing it; and
  3. The strategic trap, when a company focuses purely on the marketplace of today and fails to anticipate the future.”

How do these map to the mojo barometer?

Pretty nicely, as it turns out. I’ve updated my 2013 list below and added links to relevant posts so you can dig a little deeper. So, how are you doing?

  1. Strategic trap:  Your company isn’t looking at the bigger picture, specifically, the fundamental shift that’s taking place in the marketplace and the role information plays in it. Your business plan is product-focused, not customer-centric. See The Second Machine Age: 5 Things Our Kids’ Kids Won’t Know About Transportation and Is Your Business Ready to Take On the Digital Universe?.)
  2. Psychological trap: Your company still believes IT’s place is in the back office, not the boardroom contributing to business decisions and planning. Data is still seen as bits and bytes and IT as a cost-center. Your data (i.e., your information assets) aren’t anywhere to found on your balance sheet. Your CIO remains hyper-focused on saving a buck and showing ROI/TCO. (See IT Pay Rises as Roles Shift from Back Office to Boardroom.)
  3. Physical trap: Your company is still allocating IT dollars in pretty much the same systems, software and processes it has for years. The conversations you’re having with vendors about different technologies start with and center on speeds and feeds, and not with business objectives. You may have heard about Purpose-Built Backup Appliances and may have even invested in them, but you haven’t thought beyond this, specifically about the platform and technologies that will take you to the cloud and back. (See The Social Network of Machines, Software-Defined Storage, & the Data Protection Continuum and Proof (Is) Generally in the Numbers.


*“10 Great Companies that Lost Their Edge” by Rick Newman, U.S News,  August 19, 2010.

About the Author: Heidi Biggar