The courage to change. Driving a cultural shift

For organizations that are not digital natives, it takes considerable courage to become an insight-driven organization (IDO).

For organizations that are not digital natives, it takes considerable courage to become an insight-driven organization (IDO)—one that turns analytics into a core capability across the enterprise by promoting a culture of data-driven decision-making. That’s because you may need to articulate new values, embrace new behaviours, and even adopt a new culture.

While there are no hard and fast rules, leading IDOs tend to display common cultural ideals. Specifically, they are both strategically and tactically bold.


The future belongs to the bold
Strategic boldness requires the willingness to challenge the status quo and accept failure as a learning strategy. Rather than focusing on successful outcomes, strategically bold organizations give their people permission to fail. This has very tangible implications. For instance, it may mean initially rolling out new products and services with the aim of generating analytic insights, rather than realizing an immediate return on investment. It requires real commitment to defer a financial return to collect much-needed data.

For its part, tactical boldness is about choosing tangible use cases—analytics proof of concepts or projects that solve a business issue and deliver measurable financial statement impacts. To build their capabilities, teams must work on real-world use cases that impact the organization as a whole, rather than working on “science experiments” that uncover interesting—but non-actionable—insights. Here, courage is displayed by shifting to a culture that relies on analytics to drive outcomes.

Notably, Canadian organizations lag in these efforts. While up to 30% of U.S. organizations have a specific stakeholder engagement, communications, and training plan to transition their workforce to a new way of working using analytics, only 13% of Canadian organizations have a similar plan in place.

Embracing new behaviours
To keep pace in a world characterized by ongoing disruption, aspiring IDOs may have to adopt a new set of values. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Set the tone from the top. Because culture cannot be delegated, IDO change must be leader-led—preferably from the CEO level.
  • Hire for aligned values. Experience shows that analytics success hinges on an organization’s ability to create purple teams —those that combine technically-savvy people (red skills) with seasoned business communicators (blue skills) to deliver actionable insights. By using behavioural use cases during the hiring process to uncover underlying beliefs, IDOs can test for these skills in an unbiased manner.
  • Align incentive and performance mechanisms. To help employees understand how to behave in accordance with corporate values, organizations should specify which behaviours meet and exceed expectations—and reward employees who behave in these ways.
  • Mobilize and engage communities. There are several ways to enhance buy-in for a cultural shift, including having multiple teams co-create the transformation journey, fostering engagement through experiential learning, and encouraging people to get curious about how data can resolve their most complex questions.

Values drive culture
As IDOs become more mature, they must increasingly empower their employees to make decisions using insights, rather than relying on gut instinct. They must encourage innovation by working cross-functionally and welcoming a diversity of thought. And they must make data available to everyone—not just data scientists. In many ways, that’s what the Deloitte Analytics Fundamentals course is all about. To build buy-in for our analytics culture and explain our IDO values and behaviours, we decided to train 500 of our practitioners in 500 days. This course is not just for our data analysts -- it needed to reach a broader audience to foster an analytics mindset. We believe that if more organizations make these necessary cultural shifts, they will begin to see higher levels of analytics success.

This post on culture and change management is the fourth of a four-part series on the four ‘people’ levers organizations can pull to gain an analytics advantage: leadership; operating model; talent and capability development; and culture and change management. You can find our previous posts here.

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