Not every company has achieved maturity as a data organization, but there are a few steps any data leader can take today to move the ball forward and make data more effective, especially if you’re managing a team. These include:

  1. Demonstrate the importance of data. Ask for and gather metrics that are available within your company or division. When you are reviewing data visualizations, speak to their creators about the data on which they’re based and how they built them. Just by posing these questions, you are demonstrating that data is hugely important to who you are as a company.
  2. Inventory data sources and talent. A lot of organizations don’t think to actually catalog the data they already have available to them. This is especially true in large, siloed companies, where data leaders may struggle to answer basic questions like these: 
  • What licenses do we have? 
  • What access to data do we have? 
  • Who on staff is currently working with data? 

    Simply by looking at what data already exists in your organization you can think about ways to make that data effective by leveraging it better or highlighting it more within your company. This step also helps you clarify whether or not you have the right kinds of data.
  1. Define desired outcomes. Be specific about the outcomes you want to see as a leader in terms of optimizing data use. This may mean taking a workshop or class about how to do that. But it’s essential, because if you’re unaware of all the different use cases, you won't be able to direct a data strategy that takes advantage of the full effectiveness of your team and the data you have. Give yourself the time to think through these steps to get you to a very good place.

Data culture warning signs 
Why should you follow some of the strategies I’ve outlined above? Your data culture may need reinforcement. In these scenarios, it’s common to observe:

  • Uncertainty about what data is available in the organization or how to access it
  • Data and information silos, where some teams are using data well but this doesn’t extend across the organization
  • Dashboards that are outdated, may be difficult to read, are used by only a small subset of people, or aren’t being used at all

To understand why these signs are important, you sometimes need to talk to company executives. What you want to hear is that they’re getting real-time data and that the reports they receive are answering the questions they have. If not, it becomes easier to connect the dots and point out that there are tools, methods and strategies to help mitigate all of those challenges. Which is exactly where the data leader comes in.