Building an Analytical Culture


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Proliferation of both analytical tools and also proponents, in the form if increasingly well known industry professionals, is leading to broad adoption of analytical methods throughout companies. As with the adoption of any new method, however, there is a wide range of different maturity levels throughout companies.

table explaining Levels of Analytical Maturity
But how can companies foster this insight-driven culture within their organizations?

As we can see from the table above, the pinnacle of analytical thinking is to have a widespread “Insight-driven culture”. We have used the definition of insight driven from “Seeing beyond the big (data) picture” by Augustin Huret which was published earlier in the BearingPoint Institute Report (Issue 002). Huret defines Insight-driven as “real-time use of complex analytics to keep a picture of the changing business context, adjusting business models and driving operational decisions”.

There are three main processes which must be undertaken for analytical thinking to be achieved, and  without any one of these three, it will be impossible to achieve this cultural pinnacle.

  • Provide organizational members with physical resources necessary

Here we are referring to two main resources. The first of these is any tool the organization needs to be able to complete their necessary analysis and deliver their insights. Analytics tools may range from; free analysis tools, to social media monitoring tools, or from complex Big Data processing tools to predictive analysis tools, to give but a few examples. Insight-driven cultures, however rely upon more than just analysis, but also the delivery of these insights to those who are most able to take action to make improvements. Therefore insight-

driven cultures should also rely upon Digital Insight Management systems that provide efficient communication channels and promote continual communication between relevant parties. The second is an often easily overlooked, but a scarce and significant resource. Here we are referring to time.  If analysts are not allowed the time necessary to truly delve into their analysis to find the root causes of changes in indicators, they will be unable to discover true insights.

  • Provide organizational members with intellectual resources necessary

Analytical thinking is a difficult concept to grasp and digital analytics is still a relatively new profession. Only now are we seeing tertiary institutes begin to draw focus to the discipline. Therefore, often organizations are filling analysis positions with individuals who show great promise but have had no formal training or experience working in the field. Therefore initial formal training must be given on not only how to use the analysis tools and communication systems, but on how to think both analytically and creatively, and how to experiment and analyze data not until the first reasonable answer is found, but until insights which effectively explain behavior are discovered. Furthermore, in an industry that is developing as intensely and rapidly as the digital analytics industry, employees will not only require initial training but ongoing training, both formal and informal to keep up-to-date on the latest trends and progress within the industry. This ongoing training may consist of training sessions on new tools and updates on changes in the communication process, but also things such as continual reading of industry news and updates.

  • Encourage insight-driven culture and provide organizational members with an appropriate environment for the proliferation of this culture

Last but not least, encouraging an insight-driven culture within your organization is paramount in maintaining one. Even with the sufficient tools and training, strong communication of insights will not occur where this culture is not promoted, revered, and rewarded. This needs to start at the top as where top-management does not lead by example, others will have little incentive to follow. In building this culture, it is important to reward attempt at delivering insights. For example, whilst of course an organization wishes to be as efficient as possible, in the process of developing this culture, individuals should be rewarded for any insights discovered and delivered in a timely fashion that lead to positive improvements, even where these are not the most efficient actions that could be taken. Over time the delivery of rewards should be realigned so that only the best insights are rewarded, but as the proliferation of an insight-driven analytical culture will be a process, rewarding positive behaviors from the beginning should be promoted. Furthermore, where insights are delivered and actions are taken but these do not lead to positive change, individuals should not be penalized as this would discourage experimentation and learning which will ultimately lead to better analytical thinking. Only in situations where appropriate analysis is not undertaken, or poor communication means that insights are not delivered in a time frame in which they can be acted upon, should individuals be held accountable for their actions.

The promotion of an analytical culture should be seen as a positive change within the organization and the benefits it brings as well as the achievements of individuals and teams should be shared broadly. 

Where does your organization fit in the analytical thinking maturity model? Does your organization employ any specific methods to promote analytical thinking?

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Megan Wilcock

VP of Business Development for Sweetspot. Responsible for strategic brand development, marketing and business development. BA/BComm graduate from the University of Melbourne. My passion lies in finding creative solutions and encouraging collaboration.

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