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My son recently finished kindergarten, his first year of public education. His mother and I were invited, along with the other parents, to a special end-of-year party to celebrate. The children sang songs and showed off their recent art projects. We admired their handwriting and compared it to handwriting samples taken from the beginning of the school year.

My son still has a long education journey ahead of him. He will complete 12 more years of public education then advance to a college or university before starting his chosen profession (currently an airplane pilot). After nine months of kindergarten, my son is not only taller, but also reading. No longer limited to recognizing corporate logos as we drive by, he can now read words enticing us to get the latest Subway sandwich or ice cream flavor. But it was worth recognizing how far he's matured during the school year.

As BI professionals, we go to conferences and read publications that admire organizations that have received their college diploma in business intelligence. And their success should certainly be celebrated. But if you've ever spent time in a kindergarten class, you'll recognize that a talented kindergarten teacher needs a high degree of skill to manage a classroom of 20 five and six-year-olds and produce measurable results. Without great kindergarten teachers, our children won't master future milestones needed to reach their dreams.

Some of the BI Competency Center managers reading this article might feel at times that they are surrounded by children. But is it possible that your job is more challenging than the BI manager of a "high-performing" BI organization? In any case, it's important that you recognize success, no matter how small. Your organization won't reach BI maturity overnight and it certainly won't reach BI maturity without first stumbling through the early stages. It's important that you celebrate small victories. Here are three steps you should take to celebrate BI maturity milestones.

Celebrate the Individual or Team Accomplishment

First, take time to celebrate individual or team accomplishments. Perhaps a new universe designer put her first universe into production. Or newly trained line-of-business users created their first visualizations with Web Intelligence or Lumira. While these accomplishments could be dismissed as baby steps, they're necessary steps if the organization is to reach higher levels of BI maturity.

Celebrate successful collaboration between IT and business

We frequently think of business intelligence as an IT function. But if business intelligence is truly successful, it is because it has empowered business users to accomplish goals that they could not before. Create celebrations that bring business and IT together to recognize that everybody wins when they collaborate to tackle business challenges with data. Big projects like a new data warehouse or data lake, a BI platform or BW upgrade, or even a new self-service BI initiative are worthy of celebration.

Celebrate the mission and vision of your BI Competency Center

Celebrating small victories provides an opportunity to promote the mission and vision of your BI Competency Center to the larger organization. When other departments or senior management asks "why are there doughnuts?" or "why is the BICC manager making a short speech?" (and you should make a short speech, by the way), your team will unknowingly be promoting the mission and vision of your BI Competency Center to a broader audience.

Celebrations do not have to be extravagant or expensive. A few dozen doughnuts or bagels won't break the bank, even if the expense has to come from your own pocket. Start a monthly contest for "best use of BI" and post the lucky winner's face, ideally under a silly hat, in the break room or other public space. And don't miss an opportunity to promote your organization's latest BI success in the company newsletter or on the homepage of the corporate intranet.

Need more celebration ideas? Check out Digitalist's 5 Ways To Celebrate Success With Your Team In 2015.

Lastly, just as it's worth celebrating the end of a year of kindergarten, it's worth remembering to celebrate the first anniversary of important milestones. These celebrations should be a positive reminder of how much progress has been made in the 12 months since go-live as well as encouragement for pushing current BI projects to the finish line.

Wherever your organization is on its business intelligence journey, I hope you'll take the time to celebrate success whenever and wherever it happens.

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