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Data Talks, Episode 29

Data Talks is Exago’s podcast on business intelligence, analytics, and application software. This month, “godfather of data literacy” Jordan Morrow unpacks the 12-step data-informed decision making process outlined in his new book, Be Data Literate: The Data Literacy Skills Everyone Needs to Succeed. “Data-driven culture” is one of the hottest buzzwords of the decade, but Morrow says most organizations are nowhere near achieving it.




Segment 1: Data-Informed Decision Making

(0:43) Meet Jordan!

(4:20) The data skills gap

(8:08) Data skills we’re missing.

(10:46) Data literacy self-assessment.

(12:46) Is data-informed decision making new? Haven’t we been doing it for a long time?

(16:44) What causes organizations to think they’re being data-driven when they’re not?

(20:02) Lack of trust in data.

(27:03) The 12 steps of data-informed decision making process from Kevin Hanegan.

(35:03) The step people struggle with most.

(39:25) Fear of data and aversion to failure.

Segment 2: What We Are Nerding Out About

(26:30) Jordan: Books The Comfort Crisis, Noise, and Deep Work.

(52:01) Nicole: 99PI: Averages

(55:25) Chris: nothing new :-). Still thinking about how to inspire tech teams, foster growth, and beat burnout.

Notable Quotes

“I could tell you right now, it is one hundred percent a skills gap. A hundred percent a skills gap. It’s not tools and technology, which get blamed so often. Tools and technology are fine — they operate fine, they work fine, but they get blamed so often for why adoption does not occur in data and analytics.” (5:38)

“So, some of the biggest gaps that I see in data and analytics are the ability to read and comprehend what you’re looking at, absolutely. The ability to analyze and ask a question might be the biggest one. […] If you can ask a good question with data, you’ve started off on the right foot.” (9:35)

“Most companies are stuck at level one: descriptive. Which is a dashboard. It’s KPIs. And then they sit there and they say, ‘Well, we could do this, we could do that,’ thinking they’re being data-driven, but they’re not. I would argue 99% of companies think this way.” (14:20)

“The number-one roadblock for data and analytic success is culture. A lot of times people think it’s the data or the technology, but the reality is it’s the culture for an organization.” (17:13)

“Question everything, but have good questions. Come at it from a data skeptic perspective, not a data cynic.” (22:45)

“Try and find ways to disprove what you’re looking at. And that might seem counterintuitive, but we can get caught up in our biases. We can get caught up trying to find things that we want to find in the data and information.” (32:47)

“Trust the data. Don’t always trust yourself with the data.” (Chris, 36:37)

“I know of one company whose M.O. — and it is widely known that this is what they would do — is if they were not hitting numbers, they changed the target because they did not want to share negative news. So they changed the target to reflect maybe where they were hitting numbers, or close or whatever, so that the news could always be good. Now that company struggles big time.” (43:11)

“A massive part of rags-to-riches is how many times do we need to fail to become the riches part of it?” (45:27)

Featured Guest

Jordan Morrow

Jordan Morrow is Vice President of Data, Design, and Management Skills at Pluralsight and author of Be Data Literate: The Data Literacy Skills Everyone Needs to Succeed. He helped establish one of the world’s first data literacy programs as the Chair of the Advisory Board for The Data Literacy Project, regularly speaks at conferences around the world, and has helped notable organizations like the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee better understand their data. Morrow is based in Utah and enjoys ultra-running in his spare time.

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