How Decision-Makers Can Improve Data Literacy in Organizations

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Click to learn more about author Eva Murray.

In this blog we will learn what a difference decision-makers can make by being involved in the process of improving Data Literacy.

Read the first blog in this series to learn about the three most important considerations for Data Literacy in your organization

Data Literacy for Decision-Makers

Reporting “the numbers” has been commonplace in businesses of all shapes and sizes for hundreds of years. This retrospective allowed decision-makers to understand whether their past decisions led to the intended outcomes and how business performance compares over time.

Today we can use data to predict what might happen and to influence the behavior of customers and users.

There are still many decision-makers who rely heavily on their experience, sometimes at the expense of data and facts. And not all of them are stubbornly holding onto their “way of doing things.” In some instances, decision-makers may not have the necessary level of Data Literacy to truly utilize the information available to them.

In addition to developing the same Data Literacy skills as the people they lead, decision-makers should use conversations that involve data to help improve the analyses and processes in their organizations. So, if you’re in a leadership position, how can you do this?

How to Talk the Language of Data

The most important way you can engage in data and the analysis process is to always ask constructive questions about the numbers, the analyses, and conclusions before making decisions.

“Do the numbers look right?” is a good indicator of whether or not there are issues with the analysis. This reasonableness check should always be applied when presented with information and reports. Are the insights backed up by data, and can those conclusions reasonably be made from the data that was available for, and used in, the analysis?

Are there parts of the analysis and report that are unclear, and how could they be communicated more effectively? This is really important feedback to provide to analysts so they can improve the way they share information and insights. If the decision-makers who are familiar with the subject matter struggle to understand what is being presented to them, then the way it is presented needs to be reviewed.

Everyone Has Their Role to Play

When it comes to Data Literacy, just like with other skills, everyone has a responsibility to contribute and play their part. Those working with data on a daily basis and those just starting to get more involved in analysis are responsible for learning and gaining the necessary skills. At the same time, those who lead and manage need to ensure that the necessary resources and tools are available. Developing a curious mindset, being inquisitive, asking questions, and providing constructive feedback are important parts of this learning process. This ensures a continuous loop of ideas and inputs that help improve the results of all this work with data.

Embrace the Idea of Continuous Development

Data analysts look for leaders who embrace the idea of building and improving people’s knowledge on an ongoing basis. Analysts are hungry to learn and want to keep their skills sharp, so as leaders and decision-makers, embracing this challenge will foster a culture of continuous development where people are encouraged to learn and gain skills. Allow the capacity for this to happen and communicate to your people that you want them to spend this time on building their skills.

Take stock of where you and your teams are at when it comes to Data Literacy. Identify the gaps and opportunities for addressing them. This will help everyone get better at the analyses they do, go deeper into all the data they have at their disposal, and find answers to the business-critical questions. It will also help identify new opportunities for your organization based on data-driven insights.

It’s in Your Hands

You have the chance to pave the way to help your organization unleash all the power of its data — through data-literate people who understand how their collective intelligence can make a big difference to the success of your business. The best time to put your ideas into action is now. Not only will you help your people to be more engaged in their daily work as they gain competence with data, but you will also have the opportunity to build a data-driven culture.

To find out more about building an internal community around data, you can find links to my series of data community articles here.  

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