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Building a Culture of Data: Good and Bad Cultures

This is part 2 of a 5 part series on Building a Culture of Data.

When joining a new organization, or building a strategy for data adoption at your current company, the first step is to evaluate the data sophistication it has today. Here are some key indicators to look for to help you with that evaluation:

Great data cultures…

  • … Have clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Anyone in the company should be able to tell you what the top 3 KPIs are and what they measure, as everyone should be working to improve them.
  • … Consult data before making decisions. Anyone can go searching for data to justify their decision after they have already made it, great data cultures look for data before they make a decision.
  • … Make data easily accessible. Teams that need data to help in making decisions should be able to get to it easily and quickly, and share it with others.

Bad data cultures…

  • … Have no clear data ownership. If the people reporting on metrics are the same people whose performance is evaluated by those same metrics, there is a strong bias towards vanity metrics¹.
  • … Change their metrics constantly. One of the most obvious signs of a poor data culture is the constant changing of the metrics you use to measure the business. Maybe it is because they don’t know what metrics to choose, or they are selecting the most flattering metrics, but whatever the reason, it’s a very bad sign.
  • … Don’t collect data. If you aren’t collecting all of the data you need, there is no way to use it to make good decisions. Collecting some of the data is usually not enough, as the holes in your knowledge can be dangerous.

We would all love to work in great data cultures! Tomorrow, we’ll review where to get started in building one.


[1] “Vanity metrics” are metrics that make someone look good but are not truly reflective of business performance.

Quote of the Day: “The intelligence of that creature known as a crowd is the square root of the number of people in it.” ― Terry Pratchett, Jingo

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