How can a data-driven culture drive business success?
In recent times, almost all the business leaders would like the ubiquitous use of data throughout their organizations. While the companies try to put in a lot of effort in gathering the data across their business, often it happens that the data was unable to cross the periphery and remained mostly as an untapped potential. So, wanna know the success behind the data-savvy tech-giants like Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Google, etc. and compare with other organizations who are still struggling to make a similar pathway? — Probably it is the ability to establish and cultivate data-driven culture across their business. So, in case if you are not familiar with the term “data-driven culture”, let me put it in simple words — it can be defined as an operating environment that attempts to leverage data whenever and wherever possible to enhance the business efficiency and effectiveness.
So, looking out for a secret recipe that you would like to put in for implementing a data-driven culture in your organization? It would be really helpful for a lot of people if we had one, but unfortunately there is none. But yes, if we want to, we can define some thumb-rules which are, of-course needed for the formation of a data-driven organization, but yet do not guarantee the re-structuring and transformation of a data-resistant culture:
- On-going investment of time, effort and money — Obtaining the right technology and hiring smart talent can certainly help, but again, they don’t necessarily guarantee the success.
- Defining a clear strategy — Well, it can lead to meaningful success measures and key-performance indicators(KPIs), but might not motivate people to reply on the strategies on a regular basis.
- Narrowing down the data-literacy gap — Offering proper training to the employees might be of little help, but then again, it might not be exacting or demanding for them to use and apply what they have learnt.
Well, as all the above-stated factors might contribute to a data-driven culture, some leadership skills become an absolute necessity for the emergence of successful business. In times of need, if the company executives are prepared to lead by example with data, there are numerous ways in which they would be able to showcase the importance of data to the organization. They can even model the desirable behaviors through their own personal actions and thereby demonstrating the importance of data culture.
Some points are discussed below which might be helpful in running a successful business, if executives/leaders can lead the organization by culturing the data:
- Building Trust: Trust in your data is probably the most arguable factor and there is nothing more disastrous to the organizational data culture if the employees begin to distrust the data. “If your data is a mess, you should probably start taking control of the data-quality issues.” Building trust in data requires having quality data that is aligned to your business objectives, and the company executives need to assure that data-culture is being practiced properly throughout the organization.
- Regular Usage: If the company executives really think that data matters a lot for the organization, then they can make a very powerful impact by exhibiting the active usage of data by themselves. Well, those who are familiar with the corporate world, they might have noticed that most of the busy leaders or the executives are dubious about logging their activities into some advanced analytical tools, but then if they want to be that change which can lead the organization to the path of the success, they need to be that trend-setter — they could use some sort of dashboard on their mobile device to track their daily activities, while on business-tours or in meetings. Observing the leaders using data on a regular basis will definitely galvanize the other employees and the sub-ordinates to follow the same.
- Decisions: If the data really plays an important role in an organization, then all of the leader’s decisions or verdicts should be data-based, till the hell freezes over. When executives request data in order to make vital decisions, they reinforce data’s role as an strategic asset which in turn serves as an integral part of the decision-making process.
- Communications: Be it any form of communication — email, presentation, discussion over the meetings — represents an opportunity to share the insights on the business performance, promotes the data-driven culture and obviously emphasizes the importance of data to the organization. This is an indication to the employees of the organization that data is a the top-of-the-mind with the executives and they should also be ready to embrace that.
- Meetings: The organization-executives spend approximately 50% of their time in various sorts of meetings. Most of the times, these meetings turn out to be very time-consuming and ineffective. Nevertheless, if a greater amount of emphasis is put on reviewing the key-metrics and developing the action plans based on the results, then the data can guide the agenda for the meetings and as a result the meetings could turn out to be more focused, productive and beneficial for everyone involved.
- Training: When it comes to the limelight that the busy executives are choosing to spend time in something which matters to them the most for the benefit of the organization, like participating in the data-skills training, it sends out a very strong and powerful message to their team and the other employees that these skills would be very critical for the success of the organization.
- Digital Displays: When some executive chooses to display the key metrics in the prominent public locations through some digital displays, for example, touchscreen or dashboards on TVs, he/she is proactively trying to send a message to the employees that the metrics and the targets are collectively owned by his/her team. “When data is around you, it is really hard to ignore.” This helps reinforcing the message that “we use data here and the data-driven culture is paving a pathway towards a successful organization.”
- Live and breathe data: Executives must always be prepared to live and breathe data. They should put up a continuous effort in showing repeated examples of how and why data must be embraced with the organizations. If they notice some gaps, they should show some pro-activeness and evaluate the mindset and actions of the executive teams.
- Instill a ‘Code of Ethics’: As the executives are trying their best to introduce a data-driven culture in the organization, eventually more and more individuals in the organization are getting exposed to the data. Hence, the governance around the data becomes a critical component of education process. As per the consumer privacy regulations, it is very important that everyone in the organization must have the right training around data privacy and security. Respecting the organization privacyand having a Code of Ethics should not be taken lightly, it should be followed diligently.
Ifa person is not a business owner or an executive in some company, that does not mean that he/she cannot lead from that position in the organization. On the other hand, it can be a golden opportunity for him/her to differentiate themselves and contribute towards the data-driven change his/her team might be envisioning in the near future — be it applying any prior work experience or learning and applying the data-driven culture in an innovative way. Juggling with the right attitudes and actions around data, the leaders can generate powerful stories and propel the data-driven culture forward. “A little role-modeling with data can go a long way.”
https://www.forbes.com/sites/brentdykes/2017/10/26/creating-a-data-driven-culture-why-leading-by-example-is-essential, https://www.blastam.com/blog/10-tips-to-foster-a-data-driven-culture, https://www.datumstrategy.com/blog/data-leadership-performing-strategic-shock