In short: Data cultures can be realized with some combination of data and people. But through the process of creative ideation, the capability of experimentation can serve as an important building block to proliferating data cultures.
At LiftCentro, we help brands scale out cultures that regularly turn to data to inform decision making. Because it’s what we do, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to do it. For data cultures, there are discussions about whether the aspirations should be to be data-driven or data-informed, but however one wants to phrase it, it is about leaning on data as inputs to drive higher-level decision making.
At face value, it would be easy to say that data cultures exist when there is an intersection of people and data. That is certainly plausible, but we think that having an experimentation capability that scales widely across the larger organization is a foundational component to building a data culture. It’s the culture part that makes experimentation important.
When we look at any form of data, it can be a bit like reading a brochure or book. It can be instantly boring. It could be mildly interesting. It could be exciting and energizing. Despite the involvement of science, data storytelling is an art, and the art can certainly make data more compelling to our eyes and minds. But this art often has to be employed to drive action based on the data.
Enter experimentation. Experimentation as a practice, also produces data, so it blends into the data spectrum as well. But what’s unique about experimentation is that it serves as an instrument to validate, or invalidate ideas. Whether ideas are more tactical or strategic in nature, ideating generates creative and deeper thinking. It allows us a individuals to challenge our own ideas – to put ideas into the wild, without excessive risk.
Good ideas tend to be rooted in some form of data. They can stem from analytics data, or previous experiment data. They can spawn from qualitative feedback. Data that comes in directly from prospects and customers, or any organization’s key constituents, is gold. But key here is the simple concept of ideas.
Ideas that are tethered towards improving key organizational goals involve minds that are thinking creatively and looking to drive some improvement. A better user experience. A better way to provide information that an audience is seeking. A win-win for both the customer and the business. How to energize an audience and inspire engagement. This proactive thinking is key to building a culture that hinges on data.
The capability of experimentation can and should unleash creative energy from people of various roles, levels and geographies across an organization. It allows for anyone to make a great impact by testing concepts with guardrails. Building experimentation programs that can be tapped by different lines of business and functional teams across the wider organization, can help you move from having a lot of data to building a data culture.
Besides the ability to become a difference maker through experimentation, because experimentation should start with some research in the ideation process, experimentation naturally brings non-data people into the world of data. It elevates data curiosity and can foster newfound interests in data. Non-data people are suddenly data people.
Expanding the tendency to engage with data is part of data culture building. Tap the practice of experimentation to drive that expansion.