As you’ve probably noticed throughout this series, many of the problems caused by data sea monsters have at least some basis in a culture that doesn’t respect, embrace, or even sometimes acknowledge data. By comparison, a data-driven culture offers compounding benefits as your team members build on each other’s experiences and ideas.
Six Steps to a Data-Driven Culture
- Talk about your data
- Make data part of the overall culture
- Report on and discuss data weekly or even daily
- Take care of your data
- Tend to your data; check its security and integrity on a regular basis
- When something changes that affects data (website change, new initiative, priority shift), update all data systems and tools to reflect that change
- Create redundancy
- Don’t leave all data knowledge in the hands of 1-2 people
- Make sure all the relevant people understand and know how to use all data-gathering tools
- Understand the system(s)
- Know how each individual system works: How does it compare to others? How does it “think”?
- Know what can break each system, because eventually something will
- Stay up-to-date
- Stay current with data industry developments so you can invest ahead of the curve
- When a team member comes to you with a new data tool to demo, celebrate that
- Embrace curiosity
- When data doesn’t initially make sense, thank those who point it out, then investigate the data further to see what can be learned
- Make sure team members know they can come to you with bad news regarding data. Transparency is crucial to a data-driven culture
Hiring for Data
A culture of data starts with the people. When hiring and recruiting, be sure to seek out data-oriented experience, skills, and education. Look for people who aren’t intimidated by data or math, but are excited about it instead.
Experience: Include interview questions to assess their analytical capabilities and get them to detail their logic. For instance, “Tell me about a time you analyzed a large data set to make recommendations.” Look for examples of thoroughness and persistence.
Skills: Strong skills in Excel are a must. Truly data-oriented people will also likely pursue training or self-teaching in more complex software, such as R or Python.
Education: Many of our best analysts have degrees in economics, statistics, math, and information systems management. Of course, we also have great people with degrees in business and marketing, but even they enjoy digging into data.
Retaining Data-Driven Team Members
Once you’ve got data-driven people on your team, be sure to keep them. Smart employees tend to respond especially well to challenges and the opportunity to learn.
Challenges: Give all your people, especially your data people, relevant, interesting problems to solve. Not only does this keep them from getting bored, it lets them contribute to the company’s success, which is a crucial component of employee satisfaction.
Learning: We’ve found that it’s easier to teach marketing principles to people who know statistics than it is to teach statistics to people who know marketing. Create a training program that teaches those marketing principles and shows how they apply to the data questions your employees face.
Your training program should be collaborative, so team members can share their new learnings and discoveries with the group. And of course, it should be regularly updated as technology and approaches change.
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful. Both (un)Common Logic and at Bulldog Solutions (our co-authors on this series) have data-driven cultures and can vouch for the benefits. Of course, both companies had to develop that culture deliberately and in steps and stages, but it’s been completely worth it.