Ask nearly any school-aged child or your typical US worker logging the standard Monday through Friday schedule, and most would agree that Mondays are tough and Fridays are, well, awesome! This collective belief is firmly established in our culture and part of our social norm. (If you’ve ever seen an 80’s Garfield comic strip, you know what I’m talking about.) Similarly entrenched principles pervade the legal management culture as well – and it’s no easy task to change them.
Many of us are regularly tasked with getting our colleagues on board with an idea or new initiative. In essence, we need collective agreement so that what we are proposing becomes ingrained in the organizational culture. As part of the Legal Analytics group, I frequently hear questions about how to become a data-driven organization. Knowing that data-driven cultures often result in more successful and profitable companies, these questions are valid.
While there are entire programs devoted to organizational change, there’s also a simple answer. Show how data-driven decisions produce better results or, conversely, steer you from a path you shouldn’t go down. Communicate and celebrate these wins! Don’t just announce a data-driven strategy without showing results. You can’t expect cultural change without providing a compelling reason for it.
A key component in any data-driven organization is to be certain you are making decisions based on high-quality data. You need a strong foundation. In his blog post Are You Data Driven? Take a Hard Look in the Mirror.Thomas C. Redmond points out, “High-quality data makes it easier to understand variation and reduces uncertainty. Success is measured in execution, and high-quality data makes it easier for others to follow the decision-maker's logic and align to the decision.”
The author followed up that post with an article Become More Data-Driven by Breaking These Bad Habits and offered this piece of advice, “[G]ive and take feedback in an open, supportive manner. It’s the only way to advance, and reap the benefits of a data-driven culture.”
Organizational change isn’t easy and can oftentimes be met with emotionally-charged individuals or groups reluctant to adapt to new methods. This is when results are more important than ever, along with a non-threatening approach and several champions to drive the effort along. The time it takes to make the organizational change can certainly vary with each company and the obstacles that need to be overcome.
Just as it is second nature to relish Friday and the promises of an upcoming weekend, getting your teams to rely on high-quality data for their decisions can also become an organizational norm. You just might not want to start championing your cause on a Monday. Tuesday, perhaps?