4 Pillars of an Effective Enterprise Decision-Making Culture

Companies today have more data at their disposal than ever before. However, many organizations are struggling to harness this information to improve business performance — despite their best efforts.

One potential blockade standing between businesses and effective data-driven decision-making is the lack of an underlying company culture supporting such goals. That is, the tools — and the intentions — may be there, but the overall environment in which the organization approaches assessment and change management falls short of supporting these endeavors.

Let’s take a closer look at four pillars of any effective enterprise decision-making culture.

Executive Buy-In

Every data analytics strategy requires some degree of investment. When leaders are reluctant— to approve the expenditures on tools and training, to routinely use these resources themselves in a way that motivates employees to get on board or both — it sends a clear message to other users throughout the company. And that message undermines the enterprise’s efforts to capitalize on data, as employees are less apt to feel it’s part of their job roles to embrace these tools and this attitude toward optimized decision-making.

As analytics expert Brent Dykes writes for Forbes, what matters to members of the C-suite is likely to matter to the workers reporting to them… and the workers reporting to them and so on. When the goal of becoming truly data-driven starts at the highest levels, “it frequently cascades down throughout an entire team or company.”

And if it doesn’t? Well, it’ll be difficult to get everyone else to buy in as they tend to model how leaders speak and act.

Empowered Managers & Supervisors

According to a recent study from Harvard Business Review and ThoughtSpot, 91 percent of executives believe managers and supervisors play a crucial role in “empowering front-line workers.” Over half of executives also admit their managers and supervisors currently lack the tools, training and know-how to successful do so.

This speaks to the need for businesses to focus on building a decision-making culture at three levels: the C-suite, managers/supervisors, and front-line employees. Neglecting any of these weakens the overall strategy, just as trying to build a chain with a broken link would do.

Data Analytics Tech & Usage Training

The method in which employees go about accessing data insights also affects decision-making culture. With the existence of siloes — which generally require data analysts to extract insights, create reports and deliver them to business users — workers tend to be less proactive about asking questions due to the cumbersome process. This is precisely why many companies are seeking out self-service data analytics software capable of delivering insights directly to frontline users in minutes.

The more independently (and speedily) employees can reach conclusions, the more useful they tend to be in routine decision-making processes. This is an area in which enterprises must think about eliminating hurdles, whether it’s legacy tech that promotes siloes or overly complex user experiences that hinder employees from maximizing the value they can derive.

Analytics platform accessibility, ease of use for the “average” employee and speed to insight are critical to forging a strong foundation of data-driven decision making.

Data Fluency Training to Interpret & Apply Insights

We just covered the ability for front-line employees to derive insights. But what about their ability to confidently and accurately interpret them — then use those conclusions to drive effectual decision-making?

This is where data fluency — or the ability for employees to speak the language of data and use it to drive desirable performance outcomes — can make or break culture in a major way. Businesses must meet employees where they are, armed with the knowledge some roles are working with a data background, while some positions have little to no pre-existing data training.

Boosting data literacy and fluency helps all employees interpret insights, apply them to decisions and share their findings with others based upon a companywide language. Without paying attention to this pillar, every team is speaking a different language.

If an effective enterprise decision-making culture is a building, think of these areas as the fundamental pillars that need to be in place to uphold the structure.

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