Culture Hack

Data Driven!

2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day…to say that data is prolific is a huge understatement.  The fact that everything we do generates data is creating a reality where everything we do is driven by data. Companies are doubling down on fact-based innovation, touting their ability to back up ideas with solid evidence. But is a data driven society the thing we really need? The irony is that companies are ingesting data in staggering amounts in their attempt to better understand, anticipate, and surpass their customer’s needs but at the same time find it more difficult to understand, anticipate or surpass their customer’s needs.

The Harvard Business Review released a paper outlining “10 Steps to creating a Data-Driven Culture.” It noted the biggest obstacle to creating and sustaining a culture with data at the core is the required shift in the employee mindset. The technical aspects of a data-centric culture are easy enough to inject into decision making processes. It’s getting people to normalize the behaviors and make data dependency second nature that triggers the most issues, presumably because it disconnects them from a more intuitive human-centric approach. 

Don’t get me wrong, data is a powerful and important tool, but it is and should be one of many inputs. When combined with wisdom, collective experiences, and/or customer knowledge it can be so much more than an autocratic light switch dictating what should or should not be done. There is value in the interpretation of the data that is created by the people interpreting it, questioning it, or using it as a spring board for new hypotheses or validation for wild theories

Data should be more like the co-pilot sitting in the passenger seat with Google maps pulled up on their phone. It knows the route and can calculate for all the known variables but it doesn’t see or experience; it can’t account for the known unknown variable – human nature.

-Myia Thompkins