- August 3, 2017
- Posted by: Julian Gregory
- Category: Data Culture
“Progress is impossible without change, and those that can’t change their minds, can’t change anything” – George Bernard Shaw
There are those that according to the internet (It must surely be true then!), will tell you that change is a difficult thing, and that as a species, we much prefer to maintain the status quo than rock the proverbial boat. They don’t say it’s impossible, but that generally speaking, we’re not really that fond of it.
I know from the many times I’ve moved house/job/country, that the longer I’ve been somewhere, the harder it is to shift myself out of that perceived comfort zone and start over. Again, it’s not been impossible, but there’s always a certain amount of discomfort whilst we transition to a new way of being. One thing I have discovered though, is that sometimes, the greatest rewards have come from embracing, rather than fighting, change.
Business is no different in as much as change is inevitable, but what is different, is the fact that you are likely to have to manage many more people through the process compared to making decisions about your personal life. You will likely encounter resistance to your ideas, and the longer your staff have been used to one way of doing something, the harder it may be to get them to accept something new.
One of the most current shifts in thinking that businesses are experiencing right now, is the move towards a more data oriented environment. You’d have to have been living in a cave somewhere to have missed the fact that over the last few years, data has become everything, and understanding what that data means, is the holy grail that many businesses are struggling to get to grips with.
So how do you move your business smoothly through the process of adopting a more data positive culture, and what should you be doing to make sure your team is behind you all the way? Hopefully, the next few paragraphs will go some way towards building a solid strategy to move your business in the right direction with relative ease.
Leadership is vital
If it falls to you to implement a new data positive environment, be prepared to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in with the rest of your team! Leading from the front, will give your staff the confidence to adapt much more quickly than if you merely issue orders from above. You’ll also discover a lot of highly valuable information if you work with your team, rather than directing them.
Creating a highly motivated, goal oriented team is often the key to a successful data culture, and positive leadership can foster an environment where people feel free to experiment and innovate with your data. Developing a culture of innovative thinking, will pay a huge return on your investment in your staff.
Trial and error
Things will not be perfect when you get started! You may discover you don’t have all the information you need to get the answers you want in the early days. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get started though. You could spend forever trying to perfect it before you run it, and it’s easy to get sucked in to forever tweaking it, rather than running it.
If you get nothing else from your early efforts, you’ll figure out where the gaps are in your data and your staff’s understanding of the objectives. This allows you to find ways to get what you need, and start to build up the bigger picture as you go.
If this does happen and it doesn’t work out first time – don’t give up! Implement what you learned from your initial pass, and just go for it again. I would happily have a bet with you, that the second effort would produce better results, and that you would begin to see how the whole thing works.
Hopefully, if your team shares your vision, they’ll be having eureka moments of their own, and you’re well on your way.
When everyone has a common purpose, and is speaking the same language, it’s time to tweak things a bit. It’s highly likely that you’ll discover things you hadn’t previously thought of, and some of these things are likely to be quite important to your business. This is the process of data discovery, and this is the cornerstone of your data culture.
There’s often a temptation to try and get as much information as quickly as possible, but too much too soon might have a negative result, and here’s why: taking a more organic approach, and allowing the team to figure things out for themselves (yourself as the team leader included), means that the processes of discovery will naturally develop alongside the data itself.
In the rush to find answers to questions, it’s possible to inadvertently introduce a swathe of processes in order to extract the maximum insight from your data. This can result in the whole thing becoming a matter of managing and refining processes, rather than data.
If your focus is shifted from the data and on to the processes, it’s those processes that begin to drive decisions, and not the data. That’s probably the exact opposite of the culture you’re trying to build and nurture.
Listen and learn
It is vitally important to listen to what your team are telling you, and also listen to what the data is telling you. The people on the frontline of your business have insights that your data does not, and that works in reverse too.
Being able to listen to both sides of the equation, will give you more information on which to base your decisions.
As you begin to build a much bigger picture based on what you’ve learned from listening, you will naturally refine your processes and your culture will gradually take shape.
Mistakes will probably be made, but that’s not important; what’s important, is that because you have fostered a healthy data culture, those mistakes become a welcome step closer to the answers you seek.
If you would like to know more about how to create a positive data culture in your business, contact us today and schedule your free initial consultation.
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