Business analysis in the creative sector – culture clash could block change

A leading figure in the project to move BBC production from London to Salford is to use Business Analysis Conference 2009 to call for a shift in the way BAs interact with creative professionals.

Mark Harrison (Creative Director, Innovation, for Project North and BBC Vision) said measurement and analysis are in danger of getting in the way of new leaps in technology of the kind which have transformed the media in recent years.

In an interview with Judy Rees he calls for a new approach which recognises the danger of a culture clash, and takes specific action to harness some of the intuition that characterises creative people. That it turn, he believes, will release more potential for change.

He says that the growth of a “measurement culture” within the BBC over the last decade or so has left creative professionals facing a “wall of analysis” which may now be obstructing change. He says it’s like trying to break down Tiger Woods’ golf swing into its component parts – you would not expect the sportsman himself to do that in detail without affecting his game: instead his coach would decide where to focus his attention.

Mark said the analysts and consultants he had met fell broadly into two categories. “The one kind is the kind that says, ‘Here are a set of analytical tools, I wish you to help me to apply them to this area of your work.’ And the other is the kind that says, ‘Tell me about your area of work.’ And they do a lot of listening, and because they are good listeners they start to learn how to speak back to me and our colleagues in our language.”

The latter kind of analyst, he believes, is the one that will help to drive profound technological change in future and counter the creatives’ cry of “Why are you doing this to us?”

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