The APQC Blog

Building a Data-driven Organization Starts with Culture

When I was in secondary school learning how to write essays, my teachers beat me over the head with the following adage about how to structure a paper: “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.” Well, I’m about to tell you what I’m going to tell you, only what I’m going to tell you is going to take the form of 12 months of research content instead of a high school English paper.  And (mercifully) I’m not going to be the only one doing the telling.

Over the next year, the data and analytics research team at APQC is going to explore the question, “how do you build a data-driven organization?” This is obviously not a simple question to answer, so it’s helpful to break it down into smaller sub-questions. And the first logical sub-question has to be “where do you start?” 

Based on countless conversations with analytics experts and, more importantly, with our members, APQC has found that “building a data-driven culture” is the predominant challenge that business leaders face as they try to take advantage of the transformative power of analytics. The results of our annual priorities and challenges survey corroborate this.  At APQC, we’ve found that the key to moving the organization along the data-driven decision making spectrum (Figure 1) is not to invest in sophisticated tools and technology (at least not at first), but, rather, to start by building a data-driven culture.

                            Data-driven Decision Making Spectrum

                                                        Figure 1

We’ve already begun showing you how to do that with our Change Management for Establishing a Data-driven Culture research project and our new Data Driven by Design thought leader interview series (you can check out the first installment here). And each quarter over the next year, we’ll be focusing on a specific element of building a data-driven organization to help you figure out where you need to go and how to get there. So I’m telling you now, we have much more to tell you over the next year. I hope you enjoy the story.

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