The most successful companies in the world are data-driven. They use data to make better decisions, innovate faster, and beat the competition. As the world also becomes increasingly dominated by technology, this creates a perfect storm for companies and executive teams. Yet they’ll be able to deftly weather the storm if they become proficient at skillfully using data.
Data proficiency starts with the executive team. How the executives think about data and innovation determines how the rest of the company operates. People don’t discover how to behave from reading words on a page; they do so by seeing what actions are taking place.
Executive teams need to be data proficient and coach their direct reports on how to do the same. But to do so, they must know where the executive team members stand currently in their understanding and use of data.
The key to knowing how to approach data proficiency is to first measure a team’s current performance on the data.
Start with the MTS Assessment
The following short assessment will help gauge the executive team’s data proficiency in five key categories:
- Decision Making Process
- Data Proficiency
Each of the 10 questions is worth up to 5 points. The answer categories include:
Not at all (1)
All of the time (5)
For each question, the team member should record the number associated with the answer category that best describes him or herself.
- How often do you use a process or framework to make decisions?
- Are you able to explain your decision-making process to other people?
- Do you use data to make and back up decisions?
- Do you expect data to be used when others are explaining their decisions to you?
- Do you consider risk when making decisions?
- Are you able to determine the riskiest parts of a decision and how to mitigate them?
- How often does intuition play a role in your decisions?
- Are you working on improving your intuition?
- Do you look back to see why a decision worked or didn’t work?
- Can you build on the success of previous decisions?
Ratcheting up Your Team
Tally up the scores to assess the strengths of individuals and teams. Team leaders may discover that their unit does well in a few areas, and not so well in others. For example, they may discover that there aren’t enough retrospectives taking place to discover where they can be building on success. The answers can be sliced in several different ways.
Executives use the assessment to determine the specific areas in which to make improvements that are most relevant to them. That could be intuition, risk, or something else. With a measurement of the teams’ current data proficiency, the assessment can extend to managers and directors. The ability to use data, think about risk, and analyze what’s working, when assessed beyond the executive level, will be more tactical than strategic, but there’s still value in gauging how different teams perform.
The Future Is Friendly
No one can predict the future, and making long-term predictions is guesswork. Rather than worry about the future, companies can focus on creating the future through the actions of their executives. Peter Drucker famously said that you should design your own future instead of waiting for the perfect future to arrive.
Looking toward the future, companies need to get better at finding innovation internally. Beethoven started losing his hearing at 30, and he was completely deaf by 45. Despite this, he produced his best music after 45. He stopped listening to the music of competitors and focused exclusively on his own style and ideas. Be like Beethoven and run your company looking for your own unique music.