4 Benefits of a Data-Fluent Culture

Businesses are aggregators of data, yours being no exception. And with technology advancing at exponential speed, we’ve been able to collect massive amounts of data—some would argue that we’re drowning in it. Much to the dismay of your college statistics professor, most data is underutilized and  rarely makes it off the spreadsheet. And so, we must ask, does your data matter without someone to read, understand and use it? 

One of the ways you can compete today is to learn how to transform that wealth of information into valuable actions. We don’t mean that it falls solely on you or even that small team of number-crunching analysts in the basement. We are doing away with the antiquated model where data nerds are the gatekeepers of all that big data and information flow. In essence, the entire company needs to become fluent in the language of data. Everyone from the people curating the data to the executives who are making decisions needs to know and understand the metrics being measured, how to talk about them, and how they impact your business.

Here are four benefits of creating a data-fluent organizational culture and how it will impact your business:

1. Make Informed Decisions

Your company’s clear understanding of data and the ability to transform it into meaningful analysis will move your organization away from historical biases, decision by anecdote, pure gut instinct, and urban legends. Data fluency creates a more systematic and objective approach across the board so that everyone can make smarter decisions and react with better judgement. “Because I said so” no longer flies far these days.

2. Save Time and Get to the Point

Staring at 80-page slide decks full of charts and graphs rarely inspires productive discussion. More time and energy is focused on deciphering the busy graphs and tables than having meaningful discussions. One of the barriers to progress lies in miscommunication and misinterpretation of data itself. But, in a data-fluent culture, it’s easier for everyone to understand and discuss the key takeaways—getting right to the point.

3. Be Transparent and Accountable

It’s tough to measure progress and responsibility when data isn’t available or is confusing. Clear visualization and communication about key metrics give everyone an understanding of priorities and how their actions influence those priorities. In data-fluent cultures, it’s easier for team members to hold themselves and each other accountable.

4. Cultivate a Learning Culture

Discussions about data often raise more questions than they answer. In an organization where data communication works effectively, new and better questions are asked. This inspires creative friction and changes the conversation from explaining to questioning. These questions lead to deeper knowledge, more insights, and, hopefully, change.

When understanding and speaking data becomes part of your company’s culture, the dialogue changes from gut instincts and misinterpretations to bigger thinking and informed decisions.

Pick up our book, Data Fluency, to learn more about how to create a data-fluent culture within your organization and start turning your data into dollars.


Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Wiley, from Data Fluency: Empowering Your Organization with Effective Data Communication by Zach Gemignani, Chris Gemignani, Richard Galentino, Patrick Schuermann.  Copyright © 2014.