There is no doubt that the data revolution has been changing businesses and industries in profound and unalterable ways. Based on McKinsey research, the gap between leaders and laggards in adopting analytics, within and among industry sectors, is growing. Some companies are doing amazing with data; some are still struggling with the basics; while some others might be feeling downright overwhelmed. With this finding, the emergence of data analytics as an omnipresent reality of modern organisational life means that a healthy data-driven culture becomes increasingly important.
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The problem is, most leaders think they have not got their data culture solved, nor do they think that there is a finish line. In a conversation “Why Data Culture Matters”, Alejandro Diaz, Senior Partner at McKinsey, concluded that there are at least seven principles that can help leaders build a culture that clarifies the purpose, enhances the effectiveness and increases the speed of analytics efforts. These principles include the following aspects:
- Data culture is decision culture, meaning leaders should not approach data analysis as a cool science experiment, rather leaders should try to develop and implement a data culture as a way to make better decisions.
- Commitment from the CEO and the board is essential. However, the commitment must be manifested by more than occasional high-level pronouncements, meaning there must be an ongoing, informed conversation with top decision-makers and those who lead data initiatives throughout the organisation.
- Data has to flow across the organisation seamlessly because data, applied to a business problem, creates innovation. Employees, at the other end, have the ability to act on their innovative ideas and create values if they know that they are supported by real data.
- Companies must identify their red lines and embrace them. Yet, there should also be risk management in place to operate the red lines as a smart accelerator. Risk management can be achieved by introducing analytics into key processes and interactions in a responsible manner.
- The board and CEO raise data clarion, and employees on the front lines take up the call. Yet, there should be someone in charge who is trustable to lead with example. This requires someone who can bridge both worlds, data science and on-the-ground operations. Usually, the most effective change agents are not digital natives.
- Data-drive culture means having a culture that sees data as the crown jewel asset rather than as a value that should only be delivered to customers. Data leaders and analytics, in this regard, should build cultures that treat data as both proprietary and a source of competitive advantage in a more interconnected world.
- Lastly, the competition for data is unrelenting, but another element at play is integrating the right talent for the data culture. This calls for striking the appropriate balance for a company between injecting new employees and transforming existing ones. For leaders, taking a broader view in sourcing and a sharper look at the skills of the data team is needed to exhibit a timely result.
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