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Ditch Data Friction - Improve your Outcomes with a Winning Data Culture Strategy

When employees hear the word “Culture,” they likely roll their eyes and think back to all the potlucks, pizza parties, and other employee engagement activities they have been through. The rise of remote work has curtailed these well-intentioned “Corporate Culture” activities, but it has not diminished the importance of culture nor the amount of attention and respect it deserves. Reliably, a bad culture leads to high employee turnover and a great culture leads to innovation and profitability.

A Data Culture wins or loses in the same way. For a Data Culture Strategy to be effective, it needs to be authentic, consistent, and aligned with business priorities. Data solutions should solve business problems and thus are important to the entire business. Every employee, especially the front-line employees with customer-facing responsibilities, needs to be part of the process of change and firmly committed to improving the Data Culture.

A Unified Data Culture Strategy is the glue that binds all your data management and governance efforts together. Changing the way an organization thinks about and uses data will enable new innovations and excitement about participating in data initiatives. Data quality and mastering shouldn't be looked at as a chore or “side of desk work.” An organization with a strong data culture understands the individual's responsibility to make data better for everyone and the value of high data quality.

Your Data Culture Strategy is the critical component to make data topics sticky in your organization. A Data Culture includes:

  • Data Literacy: Empowering employees with the knowledge to understand and use data effectively.

  • Data Accessibility: Ensuring everyone knows where and how to find the data they need.

  • Purposeful Data Use: Helping individuals understand why data is a crucial tool in their work.

  • Organizational Buy-In: Achieving a consistent level of commitment from leadership to front-line workers.

  • Leadership as Role Models: Making it clear that employees are encouraged and free to join in the cause of creating a great data culture.

Kick off your Data Culture Strategy by getting Leadership Commitment. Train Leadership to be Data Role Models. Encourage and support them with materials and messages to share with their teams in vibrant announcements about the "new" initiative.

Identify the next level of influential groups who can adopt and spread their new knowledge. The Project Management Office is a great place to start, but also engage with your Customer Service and Marketing teams. All three have an influence on how information is used within the organization for productivity gains and to improve the customer experience.

Once you have a program running, it is time to rev up the Data Culture Flywheel, represented in the graphic.

  • Maintaining good data management practices.

  • Continuing data education.

  • Actively communicating.

A thriving Data Office should be leading the Data Strategy charge. Minimize Data Friction, often by improving data quality, to ensure smooth, positive interactions with data. The Data Culture Strategy should be a subset of the overarching Data Strategy being driven by the Data Office. It should encompass Data Literacy and Data Catalog/Data Marketing Training and use data to show value.

Continue to educate your teams via bi-weekly, short training videos (less than 5 minutes long). Use these videos as refreshers and to generate data conversations. Use good data storytelling techniques to turn the abstract into concrete concepts and examples.

Finally, Communicate! Brag! Never let them forget that quality data creates value and that everyone has a part to play! Examples of how to do this include:

  • Provide Data Metric Reports via a "Weekly Data Win" summary.

  • Applaud data-driven achievements across the organization.

  • Track and report value.

  • Show progress towards the Data Culture KPIs.

Typically, the Data Team is a group of quiet enablers. It’s time to change that! You can only enable someone if they understand, trust, and want what you’re offering. Remember that you are competing in a flashy social media saturated society. It's crucial for the Data Team to be seen as more than just enablers - they must be Influencers in a world where Attention is the currency.

First CDO Partners can help get your Data Culture Flywheel spinning to maintain momentum and propel your organization forward to be one that makes decisions based on facts and is fluent in the language of data.

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