How to be a data avocado 🥑

I'll bet you're dying to know!

🥑 Did I say avocado?

I’m meant advocate! How to be a data advocate!

Like it or not, for data to be taken seriously within many organisations, data leaders like us need to be strong data advocates.

Like many of the ‘softer skills’ required to succeed in data leadership, advocacy is not typically one data leaders possess.

It can often be very challenging for data leaders to get the wider organisation to care about data, and to understand it’s broader role in helping companies achieve success on their strategic initiatives.

The upside of successful data advocacy however, can have far reaching positive benefits for the organisation. Such as:

  • A more data-centric culture

  • Increase data driven decision making

  • Advancements in technical data capabilities

  • Many many more

Today’s newsletter will explore what is meant by data advocacy and how you, the data leader, can take actionable steps to become a better data avocado advocate in your organisation.

👩🏽‍⚖️ Advocacy Matters.

Data needs advocacy. Here are a few examples as to why:

  1. Lack of Awareness: Many business stakeholders may not fully understand the potential value of their organisation’s data. For this reason, their can often be reluctance to adopting new, more data centric practices.

  2. Silos and Fragmentation: It’s not uncommon for data teams to be small, and unevenly distributed around an organisation. Without a strong voice/advocate it is easy for the potential value of data to go untapped.

  3. Change Management: Striving for data driven practices often requires changes to existing workflows, processes, and mindsets. Without advocacy for change, there may be resistance from those who are comfortable with the status quo.

  4. Limited Resources: Data initiatives require investments in technology, talent, and infrastructure. Without advocacy for adequate resources, organisations will likely underinvest in data capabilities, limiting their ability to extract valuable insights and derive meaningful outcomes from their data.

  5. Data Equals Business: Modern businesses cannot compete without clean, accurate and comprehensive data available to them. It is essential for them to make sound and timely business decisions. Without the right data advocacy in place, many organisations will fail to capitalise.

🤝 How to Advocate for Data: Actionable Steps

🗣 Lead by example

Incorporate data driven decision making into your own practices and demonstrate the positive outcomes it can achieve - wherever possible do this with $$$. Share success stories and case studies highlighting how data has contributed to business results.

📚 Educate and Train

You may have not signed up to become a teacher when you started your career in data & analytics, but I’m here to say that for many data leaders, educating stakeholders on the value of data is a core component of data advocacy.

Below are a few examples of where it may be crucial to educate your organisation’s stakeholder in your role as a data advocate

  • Training teams in data literacy

  • Educating stakeholders as to how data and insight adds value

  • Explaining the significance and purpose of data quality and governance

  • Educating around the reasons for strong data privacy and security

  • Explaining what is meant by ‘data driven decision making’

  • Demonstrating through real world examples the ROI from data initiatives.

💹 Aligning Data Goals with Business Objectives

Stress to the business the relationship that needs to exist between its data and it’s business objectives. Strategic objectives must be informed by data, and data initiatives must also support/be directly tied to organisational goals.

The relationship needs to be symbiotic and cyclical. Data informs strategy, strategy informs data strategy, data informs success and progress against strategies - rinse and repeat.

💰Communicate Value

Business exist to extract value so the more you can frame the purpose of data to help realise that value, the better your advocacy efforts will be.

Develop compelling narratives and data stories to communicate the value of data initiatives to stakeholders across your organisation.

Quantify the potential ROI of data projects and provide regular updates on progress and outcomes. The more of this ‘outcome’ focused data work they can see the more buy-in data will get.

👥 Build Relationships

Cultivate strong relationships with key stakeholders across departments to gain buy-in and support for data initiatives.

Collaborate with business units to understand their specific data needs and tailor solutions accordingly. The best question you can ever ask them is, “What problems does your business unit have?”

Then help them solve those problems with data!

🥐 Promote Data Culture

This is my favourite tip (and probably the most important). Data culture underpins EVERYTHING in how an organisation interacts with data. Advocate for a culture where data is valued and integrated into decision-making processes at all levels. Recognise and celebrate individuals and teams that demonstrate a commitment to data-driven excellence.

➡️ If you’d like more info on cultivating a data culture, check out this ⬅️

🙋🏼‍♂️ Address Concerns and Obstacles

Proactively address concerns related to data privacy, security, or compliance by providing guidance and resources to mitigate risks.

Identify and remove barriers to data access, such as siloed systems or outdated infrastructure, to enable broader data utilisation.

📐 Measure and Iterate

Establish metrics to track the effectiveness of data advocacy efforts, such as data literacy rates, adoption of data-driven practices, and business impact. Use feedback mechanisms to continuously improve data advocacy strategies and tailor approaches to the evolving needs of the organisation.

Make the success of data advocacy central to your own teams performance and request that you are measured against it but you managers. After all, your success here will deliver the business success.

🎬 The Conclusion-y bit

Data advocacy is a core part of data leadership. How strong you will need to advocate for data will be determined by how low your organisations data maturity or culture level is.

It will be on you to assess this and address it accordingly, but the steps outlined above are a great place to start.

👋 Hi, I’m Tristan - Thanks for being here!

There’s quite a lot of new faces around here so I though I’d introduce myself. My name is Tristan and I am a coach and advisor to data leaders all over the world.

I’ve made it my mission to help them to supercharge their careers and grow into influential and unstoppable data leaders.

People just like Outi here:

If you’d like to grab a free intro call with me to discuss how I can help you go for it! You can book time directly with me here: Chat with Tristan

I’m currently taking clients for June and there are limited spaces available so now is the time to take action!

Speak soon!