August 24, 2022

Engaging your business with Data Literacy, how to avoid boredom

By Tristan Mobbs

One of the regular challenges for leaders wanting to engage their stakeholders with a data literacy programme is boredom. More specifically it’s often an expectation of boredom. Some leaders just hear it’s about data & start to feel bored already.

So, how can data or analytics leaders overcome this reluctance or disinterest to engage or even enthuse their internal audience? Well, I’m delighted to welcome back guest blogger Tristan Mobbs to share his experience. You may recall that Tristan works as an Advanced Analytics Translator for Daiichi Sankyo UK. he is also active on social media sharing the real world of analytics & practical advice to help analysts.

Tristan has shared with us previously on data quality, data storytelling & data literacy. In this post he shares three helpful tips to overcome disinterest and engage your stakeholders with data literacy. How could you use these to avoid boredom in your audiences?

The boredom challenge for data literacy training

Remember those training courses that you have to do but which are incredibly dull? Ones on cyber security or on company policies. How much do you engage with them? Do you just try and get them done and move on? So why is your data literacy program any different?

How are you ensuring it isn’t seen as another dull training that I have to get done before I can crack on with the day job? Here are some things worth considering to ensure your program isn’t just another burden to your employees.

Sell the benefits

What is in it for me? If you can start to answer that you are on to a winner. It’s not just that your employees are required to do this for their job but there are so many more benefits too. How can they interpret data outside of work? Maybe to critically think about the news or to evaluate a new purchase. Perhaps they do a simple bit of analysis to check their bills or to do a budget. These are all great uses of data that aren’t just job-related.

For their role, how can data help them perform better? Can it show how they can hit a target? Does it help them communicate their value more effectively? Could it show them where they can improve?

There are so many benefits to understanding an organisation’s data. And if it can make someone’s job easier, more effective and more meaningful then the likelihood they will engage is so much higher.

Define the content

What does your Data Literacy program look like and who should it target? Often this is a blanket offering of data tips, Excel tips and how to guides aimed at those who already know a bit. But what about those people who switch off as soon as they hear about data? Those who just see a brick wall. Here you need your content to engage, but first what content is going to work for your organisation? They may see a brick wall but show them how much they already know, how much data already affects their lives and how they already interact with it. Be that playing fantasy football, complaining about energy bills or collecting nectar points.

If you can get these people on board, the lowest point of the organisation shifts and that has to be a massive boost to your organisation’s data programs. Start to lower the size of the wall. Build their confidence and they can be the people who help define your content and drive your program. Your content should avoid the one size fits all approach. Are you expecting everyone to become an excel guru, suddenly exporting and analysing data for everything they do? Well clearly not, so why do we offer them all the same training?

How about managers? They need to understand and interpret and challenge data. But they don’t need to be stuck in spreadsheets producing it. So, they need to know the concepts, the challenges, the pitfalls that may crop up. Training a critical eye here will be really effective. What about your operational staff? Again they mostly need to interpret your company’s dashboards and be a critical specific client to your data team. How can you train them on the capabilities of what can and can’t be done with data? Help them understand what it can do for them and how to use it to make their jobs easier or more effective.

Build the engagement

Now you have your targeted content, build the engagement. Find those enthusiasts who will support you and your content at all levels of the organisation. Get them to share their experiences, everyone will have a data story to tell. Whether that is something that went wrong or a great success. Sharing case studies and showing the rest of the organisation that people like me are able to use and benefit from data is a great motivator.

Form a community around some of those enthusiasts, give them more support, and build their profiles. Then more people will want to engage. The more it becomes a community-led program the more it will filter through the organisation organically.

In Summary

Show them the benefits, Data Literacy isn’t just about how it helps your company. It is a major part of modern life, can you interpret charts on the news, what about those energy efficiency ratings when you buy appliances? If you can help your employees see what is in it for them, not only will it help the company but it can help your employees in their daily lives too.

Define the content, don’t approach your organisation with a big dull blanket, share stories and inspire them with your content. Make it relatable. Show them how much they already know and how these concepts relate to them. Break down the brick wall.

Build the engagement, once you get to this stage you are getting momentum. The more engagement you get the more chance you have of building data skills across the organisation. Without this you will only impact those who want to engage in the first place, you won’t have shifted the baseline. Sell the benefits, make it engaging and get advocates on board and you will set your data literacy program up for success.

What works for you to avoid the boredom trap?

Many thanks for such practical advice, Tristan, I’m sure it will help our readers and I appreciate your time in writing & sharing it.

What do you think, dear reader? Which tip or approach could help improve the engagement with your data literacy programme? Has something different worked for you? Given the votes for data literacy as a topic on this blog (in our latest reader survey), I’d be keen to hear your experience. Please get in contact if you have a lesson learned or a positive case study to share on this topic.