Battle Hymn of the Tiger Manager


Please do not read this post if you are opposed to humor, irony and severe sarcasm.


The other day I came across an article in Time magazine about Amy Chua. Even here in Europe we can’t ignore her infamous book “Battle hymn of the tiger mother”. No matter if you agree with her or not, we cannot deny that she has started a pretty heated debate about raising our kids. Just this week I came across various articles about her and had to listen to some radio shows discussing her methods. Even here in Europe. Having heard so much about this topic, Jen and I certainly had a quick discussion about our approach to parenting.


Some of you probably attended the Gartner BI Summit in London. As every year, many people discussed the problem of user adoption and change management. Over the years, I have witnessed many different attempts to increase user adoption: town hall meetings, trainings, flyers, videos, candies etc.. Some methods are successful, other methods fail. It always depends on the organization and its culture. During a discussion with different delegates, somebody made the comment that users can sometimes be more difficult than kids. Hmm…that sparked an idea.


If you follow the discussions in the press, there is heated dispute whether Mrs. Chua’s methods work or not. But since many organizations are struggling with change management, how about trying Mrs. Chua’s methods? How about unleashing the Tiger Manager:

  • “Nothing is fun unless you are good at it”: Some users resist using business analytics tools. They prefer to stick to spreadsheets. That’s what they know and that’s what they enjoy doing. Could it be that they are not using the new software because they are not good at it? Would it make sense to force users to practice using the new tools? Rather than sending out a friendly invite to attend training, would it make sense to just lock them up? To make this as effective as possible, one should not allow anybody to drink, eat or sleep until the users get better at it. Bathroom breaks should be strictly forbidden during the critical learning stages.
  • “You are garbage.“: We should all strive for perfection and we all know that poor analysis can lead to poor business decisions. Yet, some users seem to feel that it’s ok to use the new software sporadically. They resort back to spreadsheets and they make mistakes. If we come across somebody like that, we should call that out openly. Instead of offering help, why don’t we openly call those users ‘garbage’. Adjectives like ‘lazy’, ‘stupid’, ‘useless’ or ‘repulsive’ could represent a decent choice as well. The public insult and ridicule will teach these users a critical lesson: ‘You better use the new software and you better get damn good at using it!’. PERIOD
  • “Sorry. No sleep overs”: Users spend a lot of time on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. They also spend time getting coffee or lunch. All these activities take time away from learning how to use business analytics software. Would it make sense to cut off access to social networks? Also, would it make sense to force the inexperienced users to forgo coffee & cigarettes during the early stages of their learning experience? Also, isolating those users that struggle the most could help? Find them a remote office or conference room? Social interaction is fine. But it should only happen in a highly controlled manner.
  • “I am going to take all your stuffed animals and burn them.”: Some users are weird. They complain, they refuse, they battle. In other words: they just don’t get it. Soft skills only go so far. For those particular users we should start threatening to take their office decoration away: their favorite coffee mugs, their stuffed animals, their stress balls, etc.. And don’t just stop there. Some users need more drastic measures: smash their coffee mug in front of them, spit on their awards, rip their stuffed animal apart. That will teach them a lesson. And remember: Life is hard after all. Life is a battlefield. This type of experience could help them excel in other areas of their job as well.

What do you think? Seems like a good list of things. Let’s all strive to produce the best end-users a company could ever have! Would love to hear about your experiences with this. Maybe we will be able to read about your experiences in the Wall Street Journal. I could envision something like “Why Tiger Managers are Superior“…….