Creating a Data-Driven Organization Depends on a Data-Driven Culture

Creating a Data-Driven Organization Depends on a Data-Driven Culture

Creating a Data-Driven Organization Depends on a Data-Driven Culture

Data Strategy and Business Intelligence aren’t really about data; they’re about the way data is used. The end goal isn’t more silos, with a team that owns the data, the process, and its value. The end goal is a data-driven culture where everyone sees the value in data, understands the importance of collecting good data, has access to the data, and uses the data to support decision-making.

That culture is a total transformation of the way things work in many organizations, where data is owned by the department, or even the person, who collected it, and responsibility for making sure the data is gooddata lies with the person using it, not the person gathering it.

Creating that big of a transformation doesn’t happen easily; you need to find ways to break through the silos and the barriers. Kelle O’Neal of First San Francisco Partners shared a five-step process to transform an organization’s culture into a data-driven culture at the DATAVERSITY® Enterprise Data World 2016 Conference.

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Data Is (Not) Just a Byproduct

One of O’Neal’s key points is that:

“One of the things that is the biggest issue is getting people to change and getting people to think from a data-centric approach, and to think about data as a core part of their job regardless of whether they are the person at the front desk entering the visitors into the security system or whether they’re a data analyst or they’re the Chief Data Officer.”

She pointed out that normally, “To the rest of your organization data is just a byproduct. They don’t think about data as being so important.” Employees work on doing their job function. Collecting data and ensuring that the collected data is quality data isn’t a normal part of their job. It’s not so much that they don’t care about the data; it’s that they don’t even think about the data.

In order to make them care, there needs to be a compelling message that makes employees believe that it’s important to be a data-driven culture.

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Every organization has a culture and the cultural beliefs drive behaviors that affect the results you get. But changing culture is hard. O’Neal cited Dan Barnett, and his concept of “Make or Break Culture.” Barnett based his conclusion on experiments that were done at universities about decision making. They used MRI studies to see which parts of the brain were active during the decision-making process.

They found that gut decisions come from the limbic system, which is the animal part of the brain, the same place that decides “fight or flight.” Higher-level decisions that take more analysis occur in the neocortex, the “human” part of the brain.

“The idea is that your decision-making process is taking some of the activity from your limbic system and communicating with your neocortex constantly. It’s this integration between that animal part of the your brain and the human part of your brain. It’s the interaction between your belief system and your behaviors,” O’Neal said.

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As a result, that means that creating a data-driven culture requires creating both beliefs and behaviors that will then result in data-driven decisions.


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