Data and Purpose. Do those two words even remotely go together?
Before 2020, I would have agreed with you that data is a very factual thing. Like anything programming, it is a simple zero and one equation and can be interpreted logically. Always.
However, today data has become the pulsing heart of each organization. It is used to understand the business, customer sentiments, procurement and trends. I am sure you could add to the list, but regardless of how long your list of data use cases can get, if the health of your data is not 100%, the pulsing heart of your organization is at danger. That is why we need to move from the logical field of data and focus on the core of data quality: people.
Without your people understanding, tending, creating and promoting good data quality, whatever you pull out in reports and beautiful dashboards becomes flawed and potentially useless.
People + Data = Purpose
Connecting Data and People creates purpose. Only by connecting the two can businesses become truly data driven and thus agile in their business models.
It is not very easy to manage people and their expectations. The equation of zero and one does not apply here! This is what I learnt from my experience setting up successful data management and weaving technology perspectives together.
I have had the pleasure and honor of leading many organizations in my career. Some of them have worked behind the scenes to make things happen for a business. Others have been in the frontlines, interacting with customers and partners on a daily basis. I have to admit that I have fallen often into the trap of characterizing “leadership profiles” and finding the right “cultural chemistry” for those teams and almost having a ready-to-go PowerPoint with an organizational model!
However, some of the most challenging (and effective) teams have been those that inter-wove business and technology for the purposes of data leadership. I’m using the word “leadership” deliberately as there are many organizational constructs used to describe these teams: data management, data stewardship, data governance, data curation, data-and-analytics, and every other imaginable data buzzword cliché out there.
Whether large or small, setting up these organizations for success requires a fine harmony between:
- Current and future business process understanding: How the business works and how data fuels it, and an understanding of what the possibilities of new and improved models could be.
- Operational discipline to enforce data standards as needed, and understanding the meaningful metrics that informs the organization on what is working, and what needs to be improved.
- Empathetic leadership to balance both. Lack of data standards will, at a minimum, create bad customer experiences in a digital world that constantly expects customer delight. By the same token, data “dictators,” who cannot realize that launching a new product or enrolling a patient in a new therapy needs to happen in seconds, can also contribute to grinding a business process to a halt.
From my experience the first step is always understanding connections. Once could also call it cause and effect. That understanding is best established through visuals – how systems, processes and data are connected, and the role that Org structures plays. With these overviews in place (on high level – you don’t need to wallpaper your department with details), you have a way of starting a conversation and jointly develop the needed steps towards a data driven organization.
As a first step, I would like to encourage you to take our assessment to see if data and people truly are your weak points in your organization, or if there are other factors that are preventing a culture of innovation.
It only takes SEVEN minutes.