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The most important aspect of this process and the ultimate goal is to create a culture that embraces and uses data to inform, direct, and evaluate projects and programs. Changing a culture is not easy or something that happens overnight. But organizations that make a commitment to using data are more effective and productive. So how do you and your team do this? Here are five key steps.
To create a culture of data driven sustainability you need to have staff buy into the concept. If people do not see how this benefits them or the organization they will be unlikely to fully participate. To do this you need to have the leadership of your organization embrace this culture and make it a high priority for staff and the organization. When staff hear and see leaders and other staff members participating in a culture that uses data, they are more likely to engage. Here are some suggestions on ways to do this with your team or organization:
You can’t have a data informed culture without data. But what is data? Well it comes in all shapes and sizes, but the key is finding the right data for your needs. Likely this will be your own internal data, so you will need to track, store, and analyze this in a consistent way. Make sure that your data is:
You need to involve all of your staff if you want to have an vibrant data driven culture. You cannot do this by hiring one data analyst and making them do all the number crunching for the rest of the staff. By involving all staff you help make the process more transparent. Ways to do this include:
You know that saying about assumptions? Being open minded is a critical step for encouraging a data driven culture. Often our preconceived notions and beliefs are not supported by data. Or when we look at a different data source we might see a different pattern. The data is not inherently “good” or “bad” based on the result. The data is the data.
So you are excited about creating a culture of data driven sustainability, but how do you do this? You need a trail map! Fortunately many people have tried and used versions of an adaptive management process. These are common in the technology and manufacturing fields. In effect they are cycles and the goal of each cycle is to learn from the previous cycle and make small but continuous improvements. This process can work for just about any field of work or organization because all organizations and staff repeat programs and build off of past products. Examples of adaptive management processes include:
Some of these processes might not seem like a good fit for your trail organization or have some terms and vocabulary that are not familiar. That is why we adapted these processes to a more trail friendly style. Check out our D&L Data Driven Sustainability Process to see how it works.