For those of us toiling in the mines of building data literacy, it can be easy to overlook a key pillar for a data culture: executive leadership. "The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture. If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening." (Edgar Schein, MIT Sloan School of Management).
If you're building a data culture, it is both fair and necessary to expect senior leadership to articulate the importance of data fluency, set expectations for data-driven decisions, model the kind of behaviors they expect, and invest in training.
As a parent, I'd argue that the modeling of behavior may be most important. For example, when the executive team makes decisions, do they explicitly use data? When they present organization-wide updates, do they do a good job of communicating and visualizing this data? Do they translate strategies into specific measures that are well communicated? These are the types of things that can help everyone see how they should be incorporating data into their activities.
i think the culture is a byproduct of data literacy, and BI adoption.... you cant force a culture change, its needs to be organic....but you can help set the stage through easy to use BI Tools and data advocates throughout the business....using these forums, it helps build a safe place to learn and grow provided the company leadership is supportive.
Critical thinking and curiosity are the starting gates for data literacy and a great place to start! A grass-roots initiative can be as simple as asking “what data did you use to make this decision?”.
Often we look straight to training programs and strategies when really - at the heart of it - data literacy is simply reading, writing and comprehending data, so every single opportunity we get to weave data into our thinking and decision-making is an opportunity we should treasure!
In your day-to-day activities, start asking “what does the data tell us?”, “how is this measured?”, “where does the data come from?”
I dont think I would say you could have a data culture without data literacy, but could have data literacy with out a strong data culture. I think you can have data literacy and not have strong BI adoption. BI adoption is more aligned with tools and software and how well they are utilized in helping solve business goals. The difference to me is that data literacy is knowledge and understanding, but a data culture is when you put that data literacy knowledge and understanding into action, many times with the use of BI tools , to solve business goals. Individuals will be more effective with BI adoption if they are more data literate, but I have seen BI adoption fail with very data literate individuals.
In the health industry when we had HIPAA privacy rules come about, we basically had a case where we needed to increase the "literacy" of all employees to a certain level related to these rules in order to create a HIPAA compliant culture and company. The knowledge and understanding had to come first, then it had to be incorporated into applications and tools that helped enable individuals follow the rules, and then had to be practiced by individuals to make proper decisions. This took strong leadership, investment, planning and focus, organizational changes, continuous training efforts, monitoring, tools and support. This example showed when you have executive leadership from top down you can really quickly make a difference.
However, I have been involved in helping increase dramatically the data literacy of a company from small groups and departments and expanding that across the company and it included as the enabler a BI tool which had to have some level of organization ( ie center of excellence) to help define, spread, teach, and support that data literacy growth which was part of the BI adoption process.
You're right - it is very chicken and egg - but these components can all be used to build on each other simultaneously!
If you're trying to drive BI adoption, think about how you can work with small groups to build their confidence and their skills in using the tool - whilst weaving in some broader data literacy skills (data visualization, data-driven decision making). If you create opportunities to celebrate their successes (even on a small scale, such as congratulating an individual during a team meeting for the way they went about their analysis etc) then this starts to build awareness within the broader community that data and data driven decisions are valued by our company. In this way, you're working on the three components (improving data literacy, driving BI adoption and building a strong data culture) at the same time. This very simple process can be mirrored across all teams / functions - you can start small and then grow from there!
Some of the e-learning modules offered through the Qlik Continuous Classroom are an excellent starting point!
When I get asked this question from an individual level, I tell people to start with the 2 C's of data literacy: curiosity and creativity. We need to be asking more and more questions around the world of data. Then, bring in the most powerful computer there is into the picture: our minds. By combining these elements, it allows the human element to be brought into the data element, helping with strong solutions.
Yes, businesses need to nurture and bring in not only learning and education for graduates, but all employees. This is no longer a nice to have but an imperative to success. By bringing in full learning and education, plus having a culture that truly embraces the use of data and analytics, it allows the organization to stay competitive in the 4th industrial revolution.
You can’t be what you can’t see.
We need to see more examples of women doing things with data, talking about data, and bringing a new perspective to data.
If we can see - and celebrate - more women in this space, more women will buy in. We will have little girls wanting to emulate us and we won’t need to worry about gender parity in data anymore.
It comes down to context; what is the world like for these professions?
Healthcare professionals live in a world driven by people. Real Estate professionals deal in a world driven by property and people.
Banking and Insurance professionals exist in a world driven by numbers.
If you spent all day, everyday, immersed in kindergartens and childcare - you’d know every nursery rhyme and “dad joke” imaginable. If you were immersed in the world of food and fine dining - your sense of taste would be exemplary and your nose for fine wines enviable!
Immersion brings familiarity and familiarity brings confidence, which is why I believe Financial and Insurance Sectors report higher levels of data literacy.