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How to Build a Data-Driven Culture: Develop From Within

Does your organization strive to create a data-driven culture? Or to build the infrastructure to sustain the one it has? One of the biggest, yet underutilized, ways to drive a data-driven culture is to provide current employees with the skills to answer those tough, but exciting, questions.


For example, see that HR associate interested in better recruiting techniques? Or the marketing assistant excited about the new leads? Or the customer service specialist who suggested a better way to address incoming online complaints? These are the budding analysts inside an organization that will help build and sustain a data-driven culture!


So how do you get from point A to point B? From identifying someone who could benefit from these skills—and benefit the organization—to getting them excited about all things data?


To get someone on board, speak about data analytics in THEIR language.

The word “data” means nothing to many people other than a pile of numbers. In fact “analytics” may mean nothing or be tied up with biases of what “analysts” do. So instead of using these and most definitely any other industry jargon, use concrete and familiar words.


For example, to the marketing assistant, you might pitch the idea that she could use these new skills to “forecast the number of leads in a funnel that will convert to customers.” Or to the human resources manager, you might say he could “develop skills in recruiting analysis to improve outcomes and reduce expenses.” To sales, the pitch might be that they could “predict when a customer looking at the website will need online chat support.”


How do you move employees from curious to loyalist? Create a development plan.

Now that you’ve tagged people as those who you can upskill, you will want to pave a clear, achievable path forward. To do this, work with the employee to develop a personalized upskill developmental plan that will incorporate how they will gain new skills and how they will be applied within the organization. If you have the resources, assign a dedicated mentor to coach and support this person through the plan. 


The plan should include both skills development and practical application. For skills development, you would likely include additional training on Excel and techniques to obtain and clean data, as well as data visualization, like Power BI.


Then there’s the methodology you’ll use, which should be pretty straightforward to teach as most follow a logical path, but you also want someone to be familiar with all the processes, terms and standards you apply during projects.


Lastly, and this is the most important part, you want to cultivate their already existing interest in understanding and communicating data and telling a data story to their peers and the organization. And all of that will need to be applied hands-on during this developmental period.


Making change stick: Challenge the analyst. 

To ensure your new recruit embraces and espouses data analytics, I recommend they work on a mid-profile project that’s important to them and the strategic goals of the business. That way they will get to try out their new skills and also gain exposure and recognition within the organization. During this period, their mentor should introduce them to other members of management to show off their new knowledge and skill level and demonstrate how it adds value to the organization.


By building data analytics capability with employees committed to the organization and curious about answering those tough questions, you will rapidly develop and enhance a data-driven culture. If you don’t think you have any people in your organization that are interested in building these skills, I bet you haven’t asked.


By Shannon Murphy, BMGI Data Analytics Product Manager


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Comment by orithelion on August 9, 2016 at 1:13am

I really appreciate the seemingly simple advice to speak to people in their words.

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