Posted by: John Dillard | Posted on: April 4th, 2012 | 2 Comments
Big Sky is often in the position of helping clients solve tough problems using evidence, but we’re often surprised by just how resistant to evidence many organizations are. Particularly with all of the “big data” talk lately, leaders and managers are usually skipping a key prerequisite: overcoming the fundamental objections to using evidence in the organization.
Across many industries and government, I’ve narrowed down these objections to three biggies, and I call them the “Three C’s” of data objections: Competence, Cost, and Culture.
The Competence objection is the misguided assumption that collecting data is just too hard. We hear this one all the time, particularly from organizational leaders that just aren’t used to making decisions with data.
The Cost objection is focused on an expectation that data collection must always be time consuming and costly. Many of our clients assume that data collection and/or evidence collection is inherently reliant on many man-hours and expensive systems.
The Cultural objection is simply the belief that evidence isn’t necessary or useful to make decisions. This is the typical refrain from companies or organizations that have had success in the absence or data, or believe that their intuition or “gut” is just as effective. This is a pervasive belief not restricted to leaders, but to everyone in the organization, making adoption of data particularly difficult.
The bottom line, however, is that each of these is a red herring. With all the talk of big data, leaders need to recognize that even small data can make each and every decision better. Tom Davenport of Babson College posted just last week in Harvard Business Review’s blog:
“. . . you don’t need big data, or even big support from senior management, to foment your own revolution in organizational decision-making. With small data to be found
everywhere, there is no excuse not to improve your own judgment calls.”
There are a number of effective tactics I have seen organizations use to overcome these objections, and anyone can put them to work — regardless of his or her level in the organization. The table below summarizes three tactics that you can use in your organization for each objection.
It’s too hard
It’s too expensive
Data is only necessary for scientists and fantasy football