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Dump the PowerPoints and do data properly — or lose money
APRIL 15, 2018 | FT| Alan Smith.

So what can data analysts in organisations do to get their messages heard?

Board members and senior managers certainly need to consider new ways of thinking that give primacy to data. But reasoning with data requires what psychologist Daniel Kahneman describes as “System 2 thinking” — the rational, reasoning self — and a move away from the “gut intuition” of System 1. That’s not an easy culture change to achieve overnight.

Freelance consultant, author and data visualisation expert Andy Kirk believes there is a duty of care on both analysts and their audiences to develop skills, particularly in relation to how data is communicated through an organisation.......many senior managers “neither have the visual literacy nor the confidence to be exposed to [data presentations] they don't understand — and they just don't like change”. Mr Kirk describes it as a kind of “Stockholm syndrome” in data form — “I’ve always had my report designed like this, I don't want anything different” analysts need to nurture their communication skills, taking a responsibility for encouraging change and critical thinking, not just being “the data people”. Acting as agents of change, they need to be effective marketers of their skills and sensitive educators that show a nuanced appreciation of the needs of the business. Organisations that bind data to the business model — and data literacy to the board — will inevitably stand a better chance of achieving long-term change.....The truth is that data in the boardroom enjoys a patchy reputation, typified by dull, overlong PowerPoint presentations. A cynic might suggest that even the most recent addition to boardroom structures — the chief data officer — is used by many boards simply as a device to prevent other members needing to worry about the numbers.

Here are 3 techniques that can be used to encourage progressive change in the boardroom.
(1) Use KPIs that are meaningful and appropriate for answering the central questions about the business and the market it operates in. Try to eliminate “inertia metrics” — i.e. “we report this because we always do”.

(2) Rework boardroom materials so that they encourage board members to read data, preferably in advance of meetings, rather than glance at it during one. This might mean transforming the dreaded PowerPoint deck into something a little more journalistic, a move that will help engage “System 2” thinking.

(3) Above all, be aware of unconscious bias in the boardroom and focus on debunking it. Most of us are poor intuitive statisticians with biases that lurk deep in our “System 1” view of the world. There is insight, value and memorability in the surprise that comes with highlighting our own ignorance — so use data to shine a light on surprising trends, not to simply reinforce that which is already known.
absenteeism  boards_&_directors_&_governance  change  change_agents  Communicating_&_Connecting  Daniel_Kahneman  data  data_driven  gut_feelings  infographics  insights  KPIs  PowerPoint  psychologists  storytelling  surprises  visualization 
april 2018 by jerryking

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