Any major initiative demands a passionate change agent. Leading the transformation of a workforce into a data-driven culture is no exception. If you count yourself among the growing number of professionals who want to usher their organizations toward the next level of data maturity, you—as a data champion—might be such a change agent.
A data champion understands that an enterprise seeking to harness the full power of data must first undergo a collective shift in mindset as well as skillset. While that might seem to be a daunting task, leading an organizational transition into the era of data is approachable in increments. The following steps will guide you in your efforts as you steer your organization toward these goals.
Find a Champion or Be the Champion
Consider who among your colleagues would be an effective advocate for adopting data programs. Who can get the word out and illuminate the path toward a future that embraces data science to its fullest? Who recognizes the range of possibilities that data literacy unlocks, is committed to developing new solutions, and can act as a leader and motivator across the organization?
You might find that the best candidate for this role is you.
Promote Data Success Stories
The first challenge for a data champion is to raise awareness that inspires action. An effective way of generating enthusiasm for data programs is to highlight a real-world example of a successful data project. In doing so, you foster understanding of the critical role that data can play in operations, human resources, and all levels of decision-making. By drawing attention to demonstrations of data science at work, you can also help employees and leadership envision applications of data science within their individual departments.
Identify a data project that has yielded measurable, meaningful results and think about ways that you can showcase this example. Let people know about it. Consider featuring the project at a lunch-and-learn, in a company newsletter, or at an organizational event.
Competing in a Data-Driven World
Abt Associates is a global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation; driving innovation and measurable impact for more than 50 years. Their focus is on using evidence and cutting-edge methods to improve the lives and economic well-being of people worldwide.
Empower the Workforce with Data Savvy
Once you’ve sparked interest in the potential applications of data science throughout your organization, your focus as a data champion will shift to preparing the workforce and implementing data programs. Introduce training resources that will not only develop data skills, but will also cultivate a common data vocabulary among employees. This shared lexicon will translate into smooth collaboration and efficient communication as teams begin to develop projects and adopt new practices.
Nurture the Community of Practice
The collective knowledge and experience that employees gain from data science training creates fertile ground for a community of practice to flourish. This community will bolster your cause as a data champion. Build upon it. When colleagues collaborate, they solve problems faster and eliminate hours of duplicated work. The innovation that comes out of these types of communities are invaluable to organizations that are transforming becoming data-driven.
The accomplishments of employees who have the confidence, competence, and mutual support to tackle challenges from a data-informed perspective speak for themselves. Encourage this community and highlight their progress to let leaders and managers know how the shift toward embracing data science has impacted—and could impact—their organization.
Ellen K. Begley, Esq.
Ellen Begley serves as an Organizational Learning Strategist who shirked the traditional career path after law school and leapt fearlessly into the tech industry. A barred attorney and a Georgia Peach, she enjoys the challenges that come with shaking up industry precedent and embracing what people really want or need through conversation. While not working, she enjoys hiking and swimming in the James River and swimming on an amateur synchronized swimming team called the River City Magnolias.
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