The Smart Mission: Leveraging Data and Analytics for Organizational Success – Edward J. Hoffman Book Summary

The Smart Mission: Leveraging Data and Analytics for Organizational Success – Edward J. Hoffman | Free Book Summary

The Smart Mission: Leveraging Data and Analytics for Organizational Success – Edward J. Hoffman

The Smart Mission: Leveraging Data and Analytics for Organizational Success is a book by Edward J. Hoffman. It was first published in 2018. The book provides a comprehensive overview of how data and analytics can be used to improve organizational performance, and offers practical advice on how to develop and implement data-driven strategies. It also highlights the importance of data governance and data management, and provides guidance on data-driven decision making, data security, and data visualization. 

The book also provides case studies to illustrate how data and analytics can be used to drive success in various areas, such as marketing, operations, HR, and finance.

Subscribe to Miniwise Newsletter (Free!)

Miniwise newsletter brings you one great bite-sized idea every day, curated from world's best non-fiction books, articles, podcasts..and more. An entire new world in just 5 minutes!



What can practitioners do to gain an understanding of their organization’s knowledge or improve its knowledge practices? Here are some suggestions.

Free book, podcast summaries

Pick a unit of analysis that corresponds to places or structures that can be identified as knowledge hubs or hot spots that have an impact on business outcomes or strategy. There is usually some focused aggregate, such as a team, network, community, branch, division, or department. It is helpful to limit the unit to no more than 150 people, since that is the number of people any individual can know well socially.

Be careful with Ideas

Remember that ideas don’t speak for themselves. Organizations are not meritocracies when it comes to adopting ideas. The decision makers in a hierarchy make the decisions, and their motives are almost always more complex than the pure potential value of the idea. Even before an idea reaches the C-suite, it needs to be sold. (Yes, sold.)

This happens through conversation and influence. People who package ideas successfully know that the messenger is as important as the message. Identifying and cultivating champions with good reputations and strong networks is a crucial part of the process. So is knowing how to connect an idea to your audience’s most pressing concerns and interests. Persuasion, like knowledge, is inherently social.


What can organizations do to promote learning at all levels? Here are some suggestions.

The NASA project academy always invited executives, engineers, and scientists to present at events ranging from training courses and knowledge forums to conferences. These speakers believed they were there to teach, but they also learned from and connected with practitioners. The visibility of having leaders as teachers signals to the workforce that learning matters.

Learn in small gatherings and communities. When people learn together, they get better at working together. This goes beyond intelligence to social capital. Spending significant time together in a learning environment will lead to profound work relationships for life if the event has been designed correctly. This includes providing opportunities for eating, drinking, and socializing together.


When asked about the most effective tool for changing the culture of an organization, NASA recommends stories. There are many ways that teams can bring stories to an organization.

Start every project by telling your story. Every project starts with a story. Projects are always about delivering value through products or services. The journey to arrive at that value is the story. Like projects, stories start with a problem. When you begin a project, ask the question, “What is the story we are hoping to tell on completion?” Note where the discussion goes. Is there agreement on the goals? Are there subplots? What different stories emerge?

What are we learning about the project? Do all team members give voice to the story?

Run experiments and iterate

. There are many ways to bring story into an organization. If a first attempt doesn’t work, try a different approach. The key is to realize that stories are an essential tool to stimulate conversation, encourage reflection and learning, promote diverse voices, and inspire purpose. Some of the best organizations in the world understand this and take the time to build this powerful capability


Since culture is mostly defined by collective behaviors and beliefs, it is a difficult intangible to change effectively. With that caveat in mind, here are some mechanisms that NASA has seen work in organizations that have deliberately shifted their cultures.

Signals and messages. Some of the strongest messages that managers and leaders send out are through hiring and promotion. These actions tell employees a story about the beliefs and behaviors that the organization values. This is particularly important when trying to build a collaborative culture: it is impossible to do so while promoting noncollaborative people.

Social infrastructure

The way an organization uses and allocates physical space speaks to its attitudes about who matters and how work gets done. Spaces can be designed to encourage conversations and serendipitous encounters by providing simple signals for social interactions, such as coffee and snacks.

Valuing learning and ideas. By subsidizing subscriptions to publications, encouraging conference attendance, and developing knowledge networks, an organization demonstrates its commitment to acquiring new knowledge and ideas. Much like hiring and promotion, the ways that an organization recognizes and shares new ideas also lets employees know what really matters.


People first. Project teams are about people. It sounds simple enough, but it is rare for leaders and organizations to think like this. Focus on creating a sense of appreciation and inclusion for team members. Let them know they have an opportunity to do and be part of something special.

At the start of a project, take time to acknowledge and introduce all of the team members. Ask them to discuss what they most appreciate about the opportunity to work on the assignment. A short gratitude activity like that can have a powerful impact by reminding team members about the benefits of the journey they are beginning. These conversations also allow team members to identify shared experiences and build rapport quickly.

Growth and learning mindset

Most professional development focuses on the individual. It is a good thing to build individual competence, capability, confidence, and resilience. But since project work is accomplished through team performance, the team should be the unit of measure for learning and knowledge.

Smart and safe failure

No one wants to fail, but there is no way to learn without making mistakes. Successful teams have conversations around acceptable risk, and create conditions for sharing insights from mistakes, mishaps, and failures. Resilience often comes from developing capabilities in response to past failures.

Get the book!

Sign Up for nextbigwhat newsletter

The smartest newsletter, partly written by AI.

Download, the short news app for busy professionals