Developing my data mindset
Updated: May 30
There is so much written about data and how valuable it can be to businesses.
But for every article that is being written about the powerful benefits, there is research showing that companies are failing to implement data into their business and deliver the impact that has been promised.
Through my own experience and research, the reason that companies are failing is not really about ‘data’ itself but how the 'use' of data is embedded throughout a business.
You can have clean, high-quality data processed and presented using the latest tools and techniques. But unless you get the business to use the data in a way that can be applied to deliver business impact, then the project will have failed.
Using data systematically throughout a business to deliver impact requires a shift in thinking. Adoption of a different type of mindset.
A data mindset.
This doesn’t replace existing thinking or approaches but will enhance them with strategic planning, critical thinking, and data literacy.
Over my career, I have heard an overwhelming number of excuses as to why people aren’t using data.
It’s not my job
I just don’t get data
It restricts my creative thinking
I don’t trust the numbers
I didn’t understand what it was telling me
What was I supposed to do with the information
Interesting but not relevant to my job
It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know
I do pictures/word not numbers
I’m a big thinker and innovator data just gets in the way
It takes too long and underwhelming when I get it
There appears to be a high correlation with getting these types of excuses when data feels like an ‘add-on’ service worked on by specialist data people, rather than a useful tool that is embedded into the day-to-day business and used by everyone.
The challenge is how to move from one to the other and that requires a change in how people think about data.
People do think differently. And that’s a good thing, as different skills are needed to be able to run a successful business.
But people are alike when it comes to change. Where fear, distrust, limiting beliefs and resistance come into play.
It is important to recognise that when developing new ways of thinking these barriers will exist and a way to overcome them is needed. This is the part that often gets overlooked when implementing a data solution.
I have been developing skills and techniques to help people overcome such fears and embrace data throughout my career and have seen some amazing results.
My educational background is in maths and science, coupled with a logical and systematic mind, lends itself quite nicely to analysis and a structural approach to data management.
So landing a job in the ’90s at dunnhumby, a pioneering data consultancy known for being the brains behind the Tesco Clubcard, was a dream come true as I was in an environment where everyone talked the same ‘data’ language. But I hadn’t appreciated how unique it was though until I left to join an Advertising Agency and realised how few people had been exposed to using data.
In the naughties being a Data Planner at an Advertising Agency was a bit like being a third cousin once removed at a wedding. The hosts knew you were there but you were as far from the top table as possible.
This meant that my role required me to do more than just ‘data’. I needed to educate and explain the role of data in the advertising process and how it could make the outputs more effective. This was across all levels of the agency from the leaders to the graduates, but also our clients.
The creative environment was great fun though and I learnt so much about understanding people’s needs and motivations to get often complicated messages across in a simple way.
This has been invaluable when moving the use of data further up the agenda and breaking down the barriers to change. As I realised that I needed to put myself in their shoes, learn the business and creative language so I could put data into the context that made sense, whilst demonstrating how impactful it could be.
I was developing my data mindset.
Building on my data and analytical skills; learning strategic planning to understand the ‘why’; using my critical thinking to optimise learnings and solve problems using data, and improving my business and creative literacy to communicate data well to a multitude of people.
This unlocked the ability to get buy-in and overcome some resistance by also developing a data mindset in my colleagues, giving them the skills so they could start thinking about what data they needed and how to use it to improve their output. I was able to grow my team and embed a data mindset approach throughout the agency to become more data-driven and effective.
Since then I’ve seen parallels with many businesses, where data is there in the mix but not being fully used or embedded to deliver impactful results.
This is why we launched We Are MoJo - The Data Mindset Agency.
We work with business leaders to reveal their data mindset, we are seeing significant increases in the use of data throughout the organisation which are delivering impactful results.
We know the positive impact this has on business success and we’ve designed The Data Mindset Series of workshops, coaching and consultancy services to share our approach with business leaders that focus on navigating the changes that are needed to become data-driven.
For more information on The Data Mindset Series or just for a chat about how developing a data mindset could help you and your business, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org