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Each year there are numerous articles and buzzwords about incorporating data into the decision-making process. Business intelligence, predictive analytics, data-driven, data-informed, and big data are among a few. BI solutions, both on premise and cloud, promote how their products pave the way for organizations to implement a data-informed culture. I have attended dozens of conferences where attendees and presenters discuss the process of leveraging data for decision making and proactive processes. The idea of strategically leveraging data is accepted by most professionals as an essential duty for managers and leaders. Although this is a known foundational component of great leadership, there is still a significant percentage of leaders who are not leveraging data to their advantage. The strategic use of data is not just a process or technology; it is a mindset that leaders need to continuously develop.
The mindset of great leaders is not something that is only present during typical working hours. True leadership is not something that is turned on and off depending on the situation or only viewed when wearing business attire.
Business intelligence solutions provide easier access to data but is not a requirement for leaders to be successful. A simple spreadsheet can oftentimes provide the necessary information required
A leadership mentality is present in everything we do at work, home and within the community. Leadership also requires discipline, will power, vision, and process for those who are successful. Similarly, those who develop a mindset for leveraging data, practice these concepts continuously for both business and personal decisions. Data is incorporated in decision making for both large and small purchases.
Another issue with the process-based only way of using data is the often quantitative-only approach. Technologies that provide business intelligence capabilities are designed to use mathematical functions for measuring numeric data such as sales, enrollment, retention rates, revenue, and expenses. These are obviously critical metrics that are very important to executives to ensure the business is heading in the appropriate direction. Quantitative analysis has limits and cannot provide explanations for every metric or issue that arises. Quantitative metrics often leave out the deeper context that can further explain phenomena found within data. Qualitative analysis can help fill this gap but is often not considered when discussing decision making strategies using data. Qualitative information can enhance our understanding and reveal opportunities that would otherwise be hidden. Quantitative metrics can quickly identify a population of interest while the incorporation of qualitative information can help explain the reasons they exist.
The art of leadership and data are connected in many ways. This mindset can lead to greater innovations while simultaneously finding efficiencies and cost savings. Business intelligence solutions provide easier access to data but is not a requirement for leaders to be successful. A simple spreadsheet can oftentimes provide the necessary information required. I know a few great leaders who prefer to use a yellow notepad and write out quantitative and qualitative metrics to strategically lead their organization to being #1. They are successful, not from the technology, but because they have developed a mindset that allows them to constantly think about data strategically.