Sustained business success depends upon cultivating a consistent stream of effective business decisions from employees at every level — despite the fact TV and movies often portray this success as something that occurs when a leader has one big “aha!” moment.
The challenge from an organizational standpoint, then, is empowering employees to make effective business decisions on a daily basis. Here are some considerations when doing so.
Define an ‘Effective Business Decision’
The first step is simply defining what a business decision looks like within the context of your company — and making that definition well known to employees. To put it simply, effective business decisions accomplish pre-defined goals and bring a positive return on investment, i.e. the positive results outweigh the amount of time, effort and cost funneled into making and executing the decision.
It’s helpful to provide employees with a process to help them fully identify the decision at hand, gather the information they need to act and review the decision, along with its consequences. It’s also generally helpful to provide examples of what an effective decision looks like in action compared to an ineffective one — and why.
Provide Accessible, Interactive Data Insights
After employees have identified the decision they must make, they’ll move into the information-gathering stage. This is where your data analytics strategy can either help or hinder the process, as the insights employees find will greatly affect the final outcome.
Democratizing data analytics, or making tools accessible to everyone across an organization, is the first step toward helping workers fuel their decision-making with data. Search-driven analytics, for instance, enable non-technical users to ask questions and get answers in seconds. A platform like ThoughtSpot automatically produces interactive data visualizations, which allow the user to keep drilling down into what the data is really saying.
The most important thing is employees have direct access to data when they need it. Companies still depending on siloed data and static reports maintained by the IT department are missing out on the true potential data has to inform employees’ daily decisions.
Integrate Data-Driven Decision Making into Company Culture
You’ve created guidelines for effective decision making. You’ve given employees ready access to advanced, user-friendly data analytics tools. While this is an excellent foundation for empowering them to make sound business decisions, there’s still no guarantee they’ll actually adopt these processes and the tools into their workflows. At least, not without a culture that supports and encourages this data-driven decision making.
Start by evaluating how leaders approach data and decision making in general — leading by example is a powerful motivator for the rest of the company. If employees see their managers and executives eschewing data insights for gut feelings, they’ll be more likely to do the same. It’s also imperative to set clear expectations and remind employees to turn to data frequently.
Cultivating a data-driven company culture can have a powerful effect on the outcomes your business reaps. Tech giant Facebook experienced this phenomenon firsthand when an intern with access to data analytics tools was able to map out how users from all around the globe were interacting with each other. Based on this intern’s findings, Facebook employees were able to develop metrics to measure engagement and revamp their entire approach to connectivity. This discovery traveled up the management chain and defined an entire wave of innovation for the company. But none of this would have been possible without access to tools and a data-forward culture in place to fuel decision making.
Effective business decisions depend on defining criteria for what makes a decision effective in the first place, widespread employee access to data analysis tools during the information-gathering phases and a data-driven company culture to support the entire process.