Data-Driven Culture is Dead
CULTURE. I started writing this article from the perspective that every company MUST have a data-driven culture. Yes, I did. Then I thought – what a crock! Why? Do they? Really? Or is this just something that has become the biggest buzzword of all, and people are clamouring over this as they did with other technology fads? I’m not convinced about the term – are you?
Over The years, we have had ERP, CRM and now data (with all its variations) is fast becoming the new awakening. Companies didn’t have an ERP (process) or CRM (sales) culture, they probably attempted to do so, and from what I saw (remember) it didn’t work. Technology just thrust upon people without the thought or understanding of how it will really improve their work life and lead to those success factors.
Now, we are being told that companies need to have a data-driven culture – THERE IS NO SUCH THING! The culture of an organisation can’t change minute by minute or week by week for that matter.
Culture is one of the most powerful elements in any company, and often to any kind of change or situational impact, is one of the biggest hindrances to progress. I don’t think this is something down to technology at all. It’s about people and their willingness or unwillingness to change.
Why are we so consumed with the data-driven view of it then? People have jumped up on the bandwagon as data is the new kid on the block, but, wait, next week there will be blockchain and other tools and technologies no doubt, that will “assassinate” the culture of an organisation. Culture will always change, as new leaders will come into organisations, and they will want their vision to be executed upon. This is the flux of business.
There are very few true “data-driven” cultures. I think they became that way because they didn’t make data the main focal point. It was the processes, systems, people, business strategy, strong leaders and ultimately purpose that provided them with their true north as companies. They asked themselves different questions – who is our customer and what do they need from us? Etc.
Data is an asset they leveraged to help them provide better service, create leaner operations, target customers more effectively etc. So, the folks have their job titles, and they use the assets around them to help serve their job function, identify with the purpose of the company and craft strategies that help them deliver their goals and objectives. Isn’t that what most companies do?
In an interview Jeff Bezos stated:
“It is much easier for us, and I suspect for many companies, to start with your skills and work outwards. But that doesn’t allow you to do certain kinds of things. If you want to really continually revitalize the service, you provide the customer you can’t stop at what are we good at. You have to ask what do our customers need and want. And no matter how hard it is, you better get good at those things”
So how do organisations become more adept at being more malleable in adopting new processes, tools and technologies regardless of what they are? I want to hear your comments.
In my humble opinion, this “change” stuff must stop being labelled as change. We need to stop saying data-driven this or data-driven that. Why the tag of data or AI or Machine Learning or digital, so that we can become an “AI-driven culture” – what rubbish is that! When people hear about another change initiative no wonder they roll their eyes, and say things like “here we go again!” But, companies still go ahead, with the same over and over again!
“Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results” possibly attributed to Einstein
I work day in, day out executing data strategies and implementing analytics tools that will help a company move towards their purpose or goal. The tools are an enabler, for employees to better understand what they need to do, when they need to do it, and then make the decision of how they are going to do it. Sometimes, collectively and sometimes by themselves. It supports their outcomes and achieves results.
Yes, we do discuss how the technology will impact what they do, and how they do it. Processes will change, their jobs will be enriched, they will not only use data, but other reference points as inputs to decisions. But, we don’t espouse that they can only do this if they truly become a data-driven culture. They already have a culture that exists, they have a business strategy that we work with, to ensure the data strategy is aligned to their growth objectives. So, change isn’t about how I radically affect their culture. It’s how we work with the company to ensure that their business strategy / objectives are fulfilled.
At the end of the day, companies have a few fundamental things that they need to do:
- Better Service Customers
- Generate revenues to survive, grow their staff; and
- Do good (hopefully)
I believe those are the fundamentals of a business, and maybe your list or order is different to mine. But, I’m fed up of hearing about a data driven-culture as there is no such thing!