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  • Writer's pictureGeoff Linton

Bringing Data and People Together: The Balance of Science and Art

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

In this issue, we’ll discuss a broader organizational strategy to manage aspects of VUCA by adopting an approach that balances data with your team’s instincts. If you do one without the other, you’ll miss the mark. Managers who focus too much on data can miss the art of context & interpretation. On the other hand, if you rely too much on employees’ gut instincts you may overlook the math logic. Bringing both approaches together improves decision making. Data and people are two things within your control, so it’s critical to leverage these factors.

Data gives us insights into what has happened, what is happening, and what may happen in the future. Marketers need to use data more to their advantage. Decisions need to be data-driven, and programs need to be properly measured. Top performing companies typically have strong predictive capabilities and their analysts & data scientists turn data into actionable insights.

But, there is such a thing as too much data! Or, more commonly, measurement without meaning. Avoid the temptation of spewing out endless reports. Many companies are swimming in lots of data but are only ankle deep in real insights. Each report should have a clear purpose. Identify exactly what you need to measure, and why. You should be able to provide a rationale for each metric you need. If you don’t have a purpose for it, why bother investing the resources to track it? Think about what your key indicators and real business drivers are. Then focus on what is controllable and devise a practical strategy.

People power also plays an essential role in addressing VUCA. Good managers keep things in context, and don’t get ruffled by VUCA. They rely on humans to interpret and apply data and they make sense of data and use it to make strategic choices that lead to improvements. Without people, data would never be actioned into meaningful change. Committing sufficient people power to forward thinking helps you get ahead of uncertainty. You need employees in charge of your day-to-day tasks but also should think of a separate forward looking system-thinking team to plan ahead, point out where complexity may occur, and strategize how to tackle it. Those who are removed from the day-to-day operations are able to see the whole systems picture, and how one change may cause a trickle-down effect into other areas.

Having a strategic and systems-thinking team will help you respond quickly when disruption does occur. They aren’t mired in the day to day noise. Proactive planning will allow for a more nimble, timely, and comprehensive response.

Don’t wait until disruption has occurred, or you’ll be starting behind the curve!

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