Data Culture Tricks: Offer Learning Opportunities

Offer Learning Opportunities

The real key to instilling a culture around data, however, is to create opportunities for people to engage with analytics themselves. While conversation and success stories generate intrigue, the next step is dedicating resources to transform intrigue into action.

–How to create a data driven workplace, by Cornerstone

Every time that your organization handles data, either its own data or the data of its clients, is a wonderful opportunity to also push the envelope on growing its skills and improving its tools.

By looking at each project from the four corners of the data square the organization can offer its own people the opportunity to grow into the “unknowns” and offer its clients new insights and opportunities.

The Unknown Knowns

The most surprising corner of the data square is probably the unknown knowns.

Many organizations probably already gather data that would yield important results if analyzed, but do not use it for anything but to produce a set of existing reports.

Here is an area where collaborative discussion of data plays a big role. Once a report is produced the people who create it will be blind to the other conclusions that might lie in the same data, just as someone who looks at the campfire at night is blind to all the things that lay in the darkness around it. If reports are part of an ongoing discussion about the organization’s data it is possible that someone else will ask new questions and find new answers.

The Known Unknowns

While you are making decisions based on what the data shows you know, it is always good to consider the things that your know you don’t know about the situation or about the results you anticipate.

If you know there are a lot of things you don’t know, or if the impact of the things you don’t know could be large, then your decision will be more risky.

If you decide to go ahead with what you have decided to do, an idea of what you don’t know may guide you in collecting data that will move something things into the known/known column the next time a situation like this comes along.

The Known Knowns

Preconceptions shape and color what we experience so that we can be blind to things that are right in front of our eyes.

Turning what we know about what is going on into data gives us a chance to look at it in different ways and perhaps see past what we “already know to be true”

In a good data culture as many people as possible have access to critical data, which increases the chances that a “different pair of eyes” will see something that is being overlooked.

In a good data culture critical data is the topic of group discussion which opens up the possibility of reinterpreting the obvious.

The Data Square

as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know…., it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones. –Donald Rumsfeld

You can expand these option into a 4 cornered square. On one diagonal you have the “knowns”:the known known and the known unknowns. On the other diagonal you have the “unknowns”:the unknown unknowns and the unknown knowns.

In any situation involving data all 4 corners come into play.

Let’s say you have a signup form on your website. You know that all the signups that are completed are sent to you.

You might also know that you don’t know how many people start to fill out the form but then abandon it without pressing the “send” button.

You may not realize that your web site tracking software could tell you how many people visit that page and how long they spend on it. The same rule holds here. The “unknown unknowns” may be the most interesting and consequential factors. What if your website has been rated as a suspicious or untrustworthy site ? This will drastically affect your traffic and reduce the number of people willing to submit information to you.

So how do you realize what things your system already “knows” but you don’t realize it knows, and how do you realize the thing that your system is not tracking, but which could have a massive impact on its outcomes?

The biggest resource you organization has is the multiple viewpoints of all its members. We all tend to focus on some aspects of the current problem and not others. Involving all the stakeholders in discussions about what is going on is our best insurance against being blindsided by something that we did not see coming.