Data and analytics can be an overwhelming space. What do you do? Where do you begin? How do you incorporate AI, data governance, data literacy, tools and technology, the sourcing of data and engineering? There is a lot to take on, but I want us to focus on one of the biggest roadblocks to data and analytics success: the culture and people of the organisation.
How can you establish a culture that utilises data and analytics? First off, we need to remember the majority of people aren’t data and analytical professionals by trade or title. So, we need to ensure they are comfortable and confident in utilising data to make decisions. Herein steps data literacy. But beyond data literacy, we can look at my 6 pillars of a data driven culture and you can focus in on how to establish these in your organisation.
Pillar 1: Data Fluency
With the majority of people not being data professionals, we need to make sure people can speak the language of data and analytics. We need to make sure people can speak the language of data. Do you have an organisational data dictionary where you can direct people to learn and understand what data terms mean in your organisation? Rid yourself of jargon and technical terms where you can and empower people to understand data.
Pillar 2: Iteration
Data and analytics isn’t perfect, it is an iterative process. My friend and data colleague, Brent Dykes, talked about a set and forget strategy vs an iterative strategy. I have been speaking about iteration for who knows how long. Data and analytics is a learning and iterative process. Ensure you are iterating and learning as you build and go. Don’t set it and forget it.
Pillar 3: Data DNA
Work to weave the DNA of data into your culture. Not everyone needs to be a data scientist so make sure they know that. Empower them with data literacy. Help people to understand to drive decisions combining the human element with the data element. Make data a part of the organisation’s DNA.
Pillar 4: Data Community
Create a data community, where people can go to discuss ideas, ask questions, and learn. Do you use Microsoft Teams? Do you use Slack? Create a data community where people can go to utilise their data literacy and data fluency to ask questions, propose ideas. Also, in your data community, hold webinars, lunch and learns, brown bag sessions, whatever you can or already do as an organisation, where learning takes place. Have a community with champions who help you drive a data driven culture and data literacy.
Pillar 5: Learn Fast
Does your organisation utilise the phrase “fail fast”? I apologise, but I don’t like that phrase. Organisations don’t celebrate failure when they should. Instead, I like the phrase “learn fast”. Nelson Mandela is a hero of mine and he has a quote: “I never lose. I either win or learn”. Adopt this for your data and analytical work. When someone takes on a data project and it doesn’t go as hoped, then you didn’t fail or lose. You learn from it! Then, apply the iterative approach and keep rolling in your data and analytical work.
Pillar 6: Data Skepticism
I want you to create a culture of data skepticism. I want you to help everyone question data. Don’t just take things at face value but ask questions of it. Don’t be a data cynic, no. Instead, be a data skeptic. Ask questions about data. It doesn’t mean the data is wrong but we should be asking questions and not just take things at face value. Utilise questions to spur on data and analytical work.
Don’t forget to focus on improving your data culture. The culture and people of the organisation can be one of the biggest roadblocks to data and analytical success. You may have great data and tools but if people don’t want to use it, they may not. Help to foster the culture to be data driven and succeed.