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  • Writer's pictureSimon Beaumont

Thinking positively about Data Culture

When we think about data culture quite often I see people fall into the trap of over-complicating things! Yes some of the elements of a successful data culture take a lot of time and effort, setting up a strategy and a vision is not easy, creating learning programmes for your analysts and literacy initiatives for your end users wont happen overnight; but what if I told you there is something you can do today that may transform the way your organisation connects with data, and it will have immediate benefits?

Here is my secret, positivity.

Yep, you read it right, nothing to do with Post Gres, not a dashboard in sight, but rather a mindset where by you enable your stakeholders to have a positive association with data, as opposed to one of negativity and criticism.

Let me explain more.

Think of your favourite brand, why do you return to them time after time? I would bet a fair bit of money it is because you have a positive association with your experience of them. Whether that be a sense of being valued, a culture that resonates with yours, or the quality of the product they are offering, all of these characteristics have one thing in common, they make you smile,; resulting in you coming back, time after time, wanting more. Increasing your customer loyalty.

Now apply that same concept to how data is used in your organisation. Ask yourself how do people feel about your data? Not how pretty your dashboards are, not how good your data governance is but how people feel. Does your organisation use data and dashboards to highlight failure? Focusing on the red and the negative? If so, take a moment to consider the impact of your approach. Why would people take time to regularly engage with your data if the result is them being criticised for failure. Any negative association with data will create a fear factor and a reluctance to engage, creating closed conversations from your data and minimising your adoption.

Here is the alternative.

Use data to celebrate success and develop a positive association with your data amongst your users. Actively develop dashboards and analytics that not only highlight risk and identify non-compliance but also, in equal measure, praise improvements and promote achievements.

I recognise an organisation needs to have the fundamentals in place to ensure services are delivered against the required standards, and I am not for one moment suggesting you ignore risks and poor performance. Instead I am simply challenging you to strike a balance, especially for your front line staff. Encourage every day, data-driven conversations to become the norm between teams and between peers, where by excellence is recognised and people recognise it is the data driving this recognition. By doing so, in my experience, your analytics adoption will increase and compliance within your service delivery will be maximised.

Here are a couple of examples of how I have done this in the past.

  1. When leading a Centre of Excellence within the NHS I was struck by how national reporting and the media all focused on failure and headlines were generally negative in tone. I challenged this, internally, by creating a weekly analytics feature referred to as ‘Fabulous Friday’. Within this I would list and thank only the teams achieving the standard for a given metric, but importantly, I would send this list out as an email to all of our 7,000 staff. This ensured the praise was visible across all of our people and I will never forget the first week I sent it out. Within 2 hours my inbox was flooded with people asking why they had not been praised! I was able to use these emails as a foot in the door, explaining what they needed to do to be on the list and assuring them that if they took action they would be praised the following week. Fast forward 2-3 months and ‘Fabulous Friday’ style celebration charts were embedded within every one of our dashboards, ensuring a positive association with data became the norm and embedded across our analytics portfolio.

  2. Within JLL we use positivity to thank people for strong adoption of our dashboards. Within my team we place thank you messages on our analytics portal for the highest users of our Tableau Dashboards across the previous fortnight. This small token of our appreciation is visible across all our users and ensures people recognise that they will be rewarded if they engage, as requested, with our BI content.

So there you have it, a simple technique that any organisation can adopt in their analytics journey, delivered at zero cost and built around people. Win. Win.

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