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Does Your Data Add Value?

A wonderful presentation on LinkedIn hosted by Mike Black, from PaigeBlack Marketing, got us wondering: Does your data add value at all levels of the company?

So often, data collection and analysis is seen as overwhelming, or too time consuming. In ISO 9001 & 13485 (in clause 9 Performance) management must review data and trends to make strategic decisions; and must communicate so that (in 7.3 Awareness) employees know what objectives apply to them, and how they contribute. Employees are often asked to collect data without seeing the meaning or benefit. Consider these baby steps to change data’s tiresome reputation, and make it a value-add for everyone.

  • Start with questions, and work back to the data needed – make a list of what you need to know, and then determine what data you can collect (or already have) to get answers.

  • Data is not a static tool, you need to iterate - When circumstances change, your data needs often change -- only collect data you really need. Drucker wrote that every data collection or report needs to go on trial for its life every 2 years. Ask questions like “What have we learned? What do we need to continue monitoring? and What else do we need to know?”

  • Make it visual – spreadsheets collect info but they don’t show trends. Charting tools help the data tell its story. The insights uncovered by trending and analysis build relevance and engagement.

  • Communicate, Communicate – most employees have no idea of the larger WHY behind the data they provide. Without the why, and how it benefits their area, data often becomes incomplete or inaccurate. You can create a culture of data literacy by explaining the reason you’re collecting the data, showing them the results, and explaining what that means to you and to them, and what improvements you can make as a result.

  • Celebrate! – Address the unwritten assumption that data is used to penalize. The Invisible Employee is an excellent data-based allegory that encourages us to use data to celebrate team successes or improvements, and recognize key contributors. And that’s value that benefits everyone!

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