In my first blog post, The Rise of Data Literacy, we spoke of the data revolution and of data literacy itself. But for organizations to succeed with data literacy, the right frame of mind and data literacy culture must exist. What does the phrase “data literacy culture” mean? How can an organization implement and put in place the proper culture to ensure it starts to grow within data literacy and progresses with the data revolution?
The first step is to properly define the term culture. A quick search of the term would show that the term culture comes from a root of cultivating or tending. To cultivate means: “to foster the growth of” or “to improve by labor, care, or study”. Within data literacy, this means to foster the growth of the ability to read, work with, analyze and argue with data. It means to improve by hard work, study, practice, conversation and so forth. Sounds easy? The reality is, it isn’t.
Within organizations, different data personalities and smaller, subcultures can exist. Within a data literate culture, the culture must permeate throughout all business units, teams, leaders, and the list goes on. One key word we want to emphasize within the definition of cultivate is the word “care”. Data literacy and its culture must be cared for. Within the different data personalities and sub-cultures, the message of data literacy must be approached and taught so that all parts of the organization understand the “why” of data literacy. Data literacy and the data revolution represent a new frame of mind. When taken care of, it can thrive. When pushed aside, companies can lose focus on data and thereby fall behind competitors.
The message of a data literacy culture must start at the top. When the leadership of an organization fully buys into data literacy, is willing to help others succeed within data literacy, and shares the message of utilizing data for insight and decisions throughout the company, the company can feel empowered to take on projects and training to help the workforce through. From the top on down, the conversation and culture should be that the organization has bought into data literacy and all are free to embrace data literacy, to improve their skills. Take the time in your organizations to find and discover what messages are being shared about data and data literacy. If you find that the messages are not positive or cultivating data literacy? You will need to start the message and grow the proper culture in your team, business unit, then the full organization.