The Data-Driven Organization: Characteristics and Decision-Making

A closer look at characteristics of being a data-driven organization and its impact on decision-making

By: Cynthia Short

What does being data-driven really look like? In our last Data-Driven Organizations series video, Lexico lead advisor Dan Mishich and I broke down the meaning of data-driven and why it is important for business leaders to make this critical transformation to data-driven strategy and data-driven decisions. But how does being data-driven translate to the everyday actions of an organization and what are the outcomes?

In this video, Characteristics & Decision-Making, Dan and I take a closer look at the key characteristics of being data-driven and discuss the impact it has on decision-making. In addition, we go a step further and discuss the topic of data democratization and the importance of empowering all individuals in an organization with access to data.

Looking for guidance on how to become a data-driven organization? Contact Lexico.



Hi, I’m Cynthia Short from Lexico, a transformation services consultancy. In this video, we’re going to spend some time exploring what it really means to be a data-driven organization. I’m joined today by Lexico advisor and digital transformation expert, Dan Mishich. Thanks for joining us today, Dan.


Thank you, Cindi. And thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak today on the topic. It’s an area I’m extremely passionate about. It’s a common term thrown around in the industry with lots of different perspectives in regards to its meaning. So I’m looking forward to this discussion.


Awesome. I think too, you know, we’ve toyed around and, you know, had conversations about one of the key characteristics of being truly data-driven is this concept of really looking at data as an asset. And, and what that means for companies. Curious on that, you know, I think that you know, it’s been kind of core to our and a lot of people see value in data but really don’t manage it or utilize it, let’s just say as they would, any other asset in their organization, real estate is a good example, right? It’s pretty, pretty easy to see real estate as an asset that a company holds and all of the rigor around planning governance, you know, maintenance, access, utilization, so on and so forth around something like that. But we don’t see data looked at like that very often. Why do you think that is?


Interesting perspective on it. Overall, you know, I think a lot of organizations, you know, they abuse data for data’s sake. It’s a lot easier to get their job done on a daily basis. However, that is whatever shortcuts they take a lot of the processes and the systems and the way that people perform in their jobs today don’t necessarily have the disciplines, as you indicated to kind of protect the data and ensure that the integrity is there. A lot of organizations don’t really realize that either until it comes time, point in time when they want to try to leverage that data, you know, potentially for some decision-making a lot of organizations today struggle specifically around customer data, right? Just having a single source of truth that their customers 360-degree view. And I mean, that’s just so powerful. That’s how we run and operate businesses today. And so that the core essence of everything that a business is in business to do.


It’s so core, but it’s fascinating how it’s often an afterthought, you know, and it’s like, you know, especially in, in and around technology implementations and, and, you know, realizing the full value of those and so on and so forth. It’s, you know, like after the fact it’s like, oh yeah, we probably should have planned input output, you know, like how we’re going to use it, what we expect to learn from it, it, you know, out of the gates which again is, you know, kind of bringing, I think that’s a key characteristic is well, too, that we see in organizations that are truly data driven is that data and conversations and intentional planning and design is part of their strategic conversations and planning across the board rather than, you know, oh, we should’ve thought about that afterwards and now have to go back and, and retro or you know.


You know, it’s key to all the other investments that you’ve talked about data being like an asset of an organization. And it enables organizations as systems that organizations use as well as a huge enabler, as well as an asset for an organization, but, you know, technology systems in and of themselves. I mean, they’re only as good as the data that’s within them. The true value of those really comes out of the data. You can implement any software to your heart’s desire to fix a business problem. Right. And a lot of companies will do it, but at the pure essence of it, if you don’t fix those data, underlying data issues, the software is only as good as its weight. And, and I don’t know if you want to call it systems or whatever I want to call it, wait and go. But


I think that you know, it points to really I think understanding that whole data value chain, as, you know, if you will you know, there’s a lot, there’s a lot of people who gets to, you know, really good reporting and you know, call it a day if you will. And you know, if you kind of look at, and there’s all kinds of versions, just like everything else and frameworks, and, but, you know, the value chain of really collecting and understanding, you know, to you know, w you know, are gathering to reporting to then being able to have that design to a place where there’s real analysis that ultimately it can influence and inform action, you know, that’s when you really get to the value, right. That is the value output of data. And I think that’s one of the core, you know, really being able to optimize or understand and optimize that value chain ultimately gets you to kind of that data-driven version of an organization, right.


It becomes cyclical too, because as you mentioned, you know, they use organizations will use data, they’ll record on it, totally. And insights on it, make decisions based on that, to go out and do something new and innovative, or to capitalize on some opportunity in the market. But after you make a decision based off of that data that you’ve got, you’ve now have to employ it and get it working. And now we’ll report back on it again, on the back end to see that, you know, were the decisions that you made from that data, did they hold, their weight and goal? Did they actually come to fruition? Those opportunities, the way that the organization that originally anticipated a lot of times organizations, I mean, they’ll strive for that perfection data. Everybody thinks that data has to be perfect. That’s not necessarily the case. Always cause perfection, there’s a law of diminishing returns around data and how well you curate that data. So sometimes good enough data to get, make the right decisions, make them informed and make the decisions and measure thereafter and adjust adjust your sales as your, as you kind of moving forward. So there’s nothing wrong with making the best decisions possible based off of whatever decision points that you currently have.

What does the data outputs mean to the business at the end? You know, it’s it, it’s powerful in the right hands of individuals. And I guess, you know, that’s an awesome maybe area to kind of pivot to on data is right of a big to data-driven organizations, empowering the employees of organizations with full access to data, or historically if you lean back on where things have been organizations have data warehouses and data reporting marks and all that stuff that they only allowed access to certain individuals, whereas you enable a data-driven organization. The goal is to empower everybody who needs that information to be able to make decisions. So before we were always afraid that somebody would get their hands on the data, misinterpret it and use it in the wrong way. Well, I think we’re beyond that now.


Well, and I’m so glad you brought that up because, you know, around main goals of, you know, better decision-making and, and all of that, again, the walled up data with access by a few is not part of the definition of a data driven organization by any means. And I do think that, you know, the culture shifts and the, even the new behaviors and understanding of decision-making with the data informed by data is often one of the things that gets missed in terms of the work that has to be done in order to really realize you know, ultimate outcomes of any kind of, you know, shift to, you know, relying and you know, investing and, and really looking at data as this enabler and asset, because you’re right. I mean, I think that the, all that effort that goes into even, you know, understanding that value chain and, and optimizing it all comes down to people using it. So it doesn’t matter how, how great your data is or how perfect as you put it. It could be if it’s not accessible and people don’t understand how to make insight-driven decisions, not necessarily, you know, past performance metrics, driven decisions. You’ll never realize the full potential, and that’s a lot of work. That’s a lot of change.

That is all that we have for today. You know, we’ve enjoyed the conversation, but we always love hearing from you and learning from everybody else’s experience as well. So if you would, you know, would love to hear from you in terms of the experiences that you’ve had working with organizations or within your own organizations about building you know, a really data-driven company and a team. So let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe so you can have more discussions like this, so see you next time. Thanks.