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Designing and Implementing a Team to Deliver a Data-Driven Culture


The recent article by Carl Anderson and Michael Li, The Five Building Blocks for a Data-Driven Culture, does an excellent job of listing the essential attributes that define a organizational culture driven by data. Their five key blocks essential are having;

  1. A Single Source of Truth

  2. A Data Dictionary

  3. Clear Decision-making

  4. Data Literacy

  5. Broad Data Access.

They also illustrate the significant financial advantages of having a data-driven culture.

The studies they reference show that data-driven organizations have 5-6% higher output than their less data-driven counterparts and similarly, using analytics on the data they develop data-driven firms enjoy an enviable return on their investment, around $13.00 for every dollar spent.

The old adage that the devil is in the detail still holds true.

But detail has been redefined –

Data is the new detail.

Anderson and Li wrote from the perspective of data guys, guys with an excellent understanding of the ingredients that contribute to the recipe for a data-driven culture. I know what this means. I cut my professional teeth in a company that compiled, licensed and repurposed data as its primary source of business. The file my team and I built is now the national consumer database for the largest credit bureau in the world. But I was not a data guy at heart – not then anyway. My background is industrial psychology. I grew up in a very different part of the forest.

Few words in business are uttered as frequently, and at the same time used inaccurately, as the word team.

The purpose of this article is to follow on to Anderson and Li’s good thought but from the perspective of organizational design. This article details the requirements to construct, and importance of having, a top-functioning team. First though, top performing teams are designed, they are not ad hoc collections of workers handed a task. A high performance team has to be designed and built using very specific criteria. When done right the work group is energized, focused, coordinated and enabled to deliver results. It’s similar to building a wall; the blocks are essential, but they need