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Building a Culture of Data: Hierarchy of Data Usage

This is part 3 of a 5 part series on Building a Culture of Data.

The actions you should take to build a data culture depend a lot on where the culture is today. Based on the criteria we reviewed yesterday, and your own judgement, you should be able to classify the sophistication of the organization and choose a starting point.

I classify organizations across a Hierarchy of Data Usage [1]:

Levels of the hierarchy of data usage

The level where your culture is today will determine what you should do to  improve your data culture.

Starting at level… You should start with…
1 Defining 3-5 KPIs and educate the organization on how they are calculated and how to use them. (See Choose your KPIs)
2 Start to introduce data into the decision-making process, as easily as possible. One great way to do this is to start to do projections of the KPIs as part of the regular planning process your team does. (See Data Driven Planning)
3 Introduce a lightweight framework for revisiting decisions in the future and evaluating success. This will help improve both decisions and the use of data when people start to see how effective it becomes. (See Making Better Decisions)
4 Start exploring your data for new insights and promoting them to the organization. It may take some time to find insights of high value, but when you do it will change how the organization thinks about data. (See Data Exploration and Data Insights)
5 A celebration! You’re doing fantastic.

Note that within a given company you may have a variety of different levels of sophistication across different groups. That makes your job more difficult, but I’ll give you some tools to help in the next few days!


[1] Modeled after Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which is a model of the needs of a human being. According to that hierarchy, humans do not care about higher order needs like self fulfillment until their lower level needs are met like food and safety.

Quote of the Day: “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” ― Albert Einstein