"I'm Robbie and I help make numbers less scary" was my catchprhase for years.
"I help make numbers less scary" was my catchphrase for years. Dashboards and analytics probably aren't the stuff of nightmares for most people, but I've set to see an organization that doesn't struggle with glazed eyes when dashboards show up on screen.
Data is complicated- anyone who's ever tried to make a clean pivot table can tell you that. But making sense of data is even harder- partly because it feels like it uses a different part of our brain, but mostly because it's a skill; one that takes time, and about 30+ cold brew breaks to master.
There's no “secret” to being data-literate- yeah, you can take a bootcamp and binge countless videos on YouTube, but like anything, it's a skill you master a little at a time. In practice, this means things like:
You're having a productive afternoon of clearing Slack reminders, and then BAM- data presentation. Your colleague runs through a series of charts, goes into detail on the finds, asks if there are any questions (to a room of silence) and the meeting's over. Almost every organization has them at one point or another, and I shamelessly raise my hand that I've run a few of them myself.
The reason they fall flat is that data shouldn't be a one-and-done deal, nor should it be perfectly manicured, only to be seen when the analysts hop down from their perch with a new preaching. In practice, getting around this could include:
Going from couch potato to trying to work out 2 hours a day is a recipe for disappointment, right? Similar to how going from an organization that hardly touches data to doing 90 min presentations once a month is the fastest way for a team to lose interest. In practice, better options could be:
Arguably the toughest brick wall to making data a part of your culture is intuition. Or in other words, "I have 10 years experience in my work, and if my experience will set me right 90% of the time, why should I spend hours proving what I already know?" Or in other cases I’ve seen, “why do I need to show data to say what I already know- don’t you trust me?”
Add in the chicken and the egg problem where understanding what data is telling you takes time, and it means that getting insights becomes a full-on chore.
There's no easy fix here, but an important step is starting with mistakes. This absolutely needs a culture that puts learning over being right, and a team where doing so won't dampen the next office happy hour. The focus here isn't to show off mistakes by itself (it's a lot to ask of people when promotions come into play) but rather that we're all human, and data improves our work. Not because it has all the answers, but because combining talent with numbers means now you're cooking with gas.
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