Organizational culture can accelerate the application of analytics, amplify its power, and steer companies away from risky outcomes. Here are seven principles that underpin a healthy data culture. Revolutions, it’s been remarked, never go backward. Nor do they advance at a constant rate. Consider the immense transformation unleashed by data analytics. By now, it’s clear the data revolution is changing businesses and industries in profound and unalterable ways. But the changes are neither uniform nor linear, and companies’ data-analytics efforts are all over the map. McKinsey research suggests that the gap between leaders and laggards in adopting analytics, within and among industry sectors, is growing. We’re seeing the same thing on the ground. Some companies are doing amazing things; some are still struggling with the basics; and some are feeling downright overwhelmed, with executives and members of the rank and file questioning the return on data initiatives.

For leading and lagging companies alike, the emergence of data analytics as an omnipresent reality of modern organizational life means that a healthy data culture is becoming increasingly important. With that in mind, we’ve spent the past few months talking with analytics leaders at companies from a wide range of industries and geographies, drilling down on the organizing principles, motivations, and approaches that undergird their data efforts. We’re struck by themes that recur over and again, including the benefits of data, and the risks; the skepticism from employees before they buy in, and the excitement once they do; the need for flexibility, and the insistence on common frameworks and tools. And, especially: the competitive advantage unleashed by a culture that brings data talent, tools, and decision making together. The experience of these leaders, and our own, suggests that you can’t import data culture and you can’t impose it. Most of all, you […]