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Informed Business – A holistic approach to building a data driven culture

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Sofia Quintero


By Sofia Quintero

Sofia Quintero is a Growth Firestarter part of the Growth Team at Geckoboard.

Startups and large organizations share common dynamics when it comes to data communication. Both require a deep understanding and access to useful data that is based on their business’ key drivers. Both require an organizational culture that can allow teams to embrace data and guarantee there is a right balance between intuition and data driven decision-making. Finally, both ultimately need to adopt the right set of tools that can minimize efforts in data communication and maximize the generation of actionable insights.

After talking with hundreds of businesses of all of sizes and interviewing key thought leaders in data management, analytics and data communication, the research shows a clear pattern. Data Driven Organizations count with a balanced approach to data, tools and culture. The synergy of these three elements can provide the right foundations to build an organization that aims to learn faster, react better to changes, and understand growth.

There is a lot written about big and small data and how to navigate a world of endless tools and analytics technology however, there is a crucial aspect that is sometimes overlooked. Culture.

Building a data driven culture

There are two key elements to consider when building a data driven culture: Access and Know-How.


Access is the foundation of any data driven organization.  When team members have the opportunity to not only access data but be able to have open conversations about it, new insights and inputs can be generated and shared.

Access to real time metrics allow teams and decision makers to react faster to changes and to understand in depth the dynamics of the organization. It also helps to develop an ownership culture and increases the focus on business’s goals.

Know How

Being able to visualize your key metrics everywhere and in real time is not enough; organizations need to tap into the best practices that can facilitate the creation of processes and mechanisms to make sure data is acted upon.

In a survey Geckoboard carried out in April 2013 with 368 organizations, it was found that despite the investment on tracking, data gathering and analytics, 59% of respondents do not have processes in place to make sure data is understood and acted upon.

As part of building data driven cultures the organization needs to be prepared to learn fast and have access to research, best practices and case studies from people and businesses that have effectively built a data driven cultures and transform their businesses.

Transforming your business into a data driven organization requires the understanding of the detail behind the execution. It requires building new processes, new routines and behaviors. This transformation is not easy but you can learn from other businesses that have developed methods and achieve results.

For instance, in a recent interview we had with Tony Atkins Lean Innovation Program Manager at Atlassian, we discovered that one of their goals for the development team is to spend 80% of their time proactively. This means running experiments, and learning for the future instead of only tackling problems that occur in the present. It takes a huge mindset shift that has more to do with their culture than the data or tools they use.

The ability to rapidly react and adapt to the changing dynamics of the market is crucial. An integrated Data Communication approach offers organizations the opportunity to develop the foundations for Data Driven Culture.

Getting results form your data goes beyond having the right dashboard. It is about understanding what kind of data you need, and what business question is that data answering. It is about understanding what mechanisms are needed in order to help people embrace data driven decision-making and ultimately providing processes and tools that can facilitate data conversations everywhere, real time.