Cultivating a data-guided culture (with an analytical mindset) is a challenge that you need to readily take on if you want your organization to remain relevant in the minds of your members and stay ahead in your respective industries. Those who choose not to embrace an analytical mindset will get left behind.

Right now, there is no better time than for your association to use data as an opportunity to grow your organization. Gone are the days you can simply use instinct, politics, and tradition to make decisions. You need to leverage your wisdom along with the data that is available to you.

To instill an analytical mindset across your organization, you need to take a step back and “begin with the end in mind.” What’s the end goal or desired outcome? Once you determine that, then you develop a plan to get there.

We’ll be expanding on the topic of cultivating an analytical mindset at Association’s Forum SmartTech Conference on Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 1:10 CST. This will be a great opportunity to pick up some actionable steps on how you can be a champion for embracing an analytical mindset across your organization.

Here are 3 ways you can shape the analytical mindset at your association.

1. Identify your organization’s current analytical mindset IQ.

One of the first things you need to do before promoting a data-guided culture is to evaluate your organization’s data maturity. There are different assessments out there, however, consider using one that’s more tailored towards associations. The Data Analytics Maturity Model (DAMM) is designed by associations leaders for associations to assess where they land in the model and to offer ideas on how to develop their own action plan. There are 5 stages in the DAMM model: Learning, Planning, Building, Applying and Leading. Let’s say your organization falls into Stage 2, which is Planning. Your team is aware of the ramifications in not having an effective data analytics strategy. Your data is living in the AMS, but it’s possible that some team members don’t even know where to find the data or what they need to extract from it. Another key indicator in this stage is that there’s a lack of trust in the accuracy of the data. It’s possible there are several different data source points, but it’s hard to know what’s correct because there’s no data governance program in place. All hope isn’t lost though. If you recognize the costs of not having a data strategy and can get staff members who value data involved with your cultural initiative, then you’re already on the right track.

2. Form a data analytics team.

A data analytics team is essential if you want to spread the idea of adopting an analytical mindset across the organization. This team will also play a fundamental role in driving your data analytics strategy and ensuring it aligns with your association’s overall strategic plan. Before you hire a team though, you will need to identify how this team will function and how they will proactively use analytics to transform the culture and business.

Your data analytics team can encompass some of the following positions: Data Analyst, Chief Data Officer, and a Database Developer. Of course, some roles can be a blending of different positions depending on your organization’s needs and budget for hiring additional team members. Ideally, there should already be a business executive who sees data as a corporate asset and possesses analytical qualities. That individual can be a champion for creating a data analytics team. With this individual and a data analytics team in place, you can demonstrate the value in investing in data analytics and the need to begin a cultural shift. And here’s another approach this team can take: Tie it back to the bottom line. That is a compelling way to get team members’ attentions since everyone contributes to that in some capacity.

a plant growing out of a crack in a road

3. Lead the change management process.

One of the biggest obstacles you’ll face when shaping an analytical mindset among your staff is the staff itself. Many people don’t instantly welcome change. It takes a significant amount of energy for people to alter the way they do things even if their current routine is inefficient. Change is a tough concept to embrace! There are ways to work around that though. You will need to integrate some change management principles into your organization. The three fundamentals of change management are educate, incent, and orchestrate. The other mantra you can follow is the head, heart, and herd approach as discussed in the book “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” by Chip and Dan Heath.

Here’s how you can handle each stage:

Educate: Rather than simply issuing a mandate that everyone needs to adopt an analytical mindset, it’s better to start with educating your staff as to why it’s in the best interest of everyone to take a data-guided approach. Explain the rationale behind it and demonstrate how their jobs will change for the better. Be transparent rather than secretive. Show how it affects the bottom line.

Incent: You will need to consider the “what’s in it for me” mindset that your team has. It’s perfectly normal to have that thought. Asking people to deviate from what’s familiar without offering up something that makes the change worthwhile will make them more resistant to the idea. What constitutes as a strong incentive varies, but keep in mind it’s not always about the money.

Orchestrate: You will need to establish processes and routines to change your team’s habits and overall company culture. When everyone follows the new routines and processes, then others will emulate that behavior. It takes time for new habits to develop and become ingrained, but eventually that’s how a new culture will form.

When you instill an analytical mindset across your organization, teams will be more inclined to use data to guide their strategies because it is the new normal. People will exhibit confidence when using it and combine that with their instinct to make decisions. Keep in mind though, data isn’t the actual driver. It’s there to support and assist your team, and it’s the people who are the real driving force.

Are you planning to attend the SmartTech Conference? Our discussion at this conference contains an in-depth look at adopting the analytical mindset. Register online!

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