05 Nov Leading a Data-Driven Organization

Using data for better leadershipI recently attended a course called “Leading a Data Driven Organization”.

This was an eye-opening experience for me, as it demonstrated just how the power of data can influence the destiny of a company.

It’s incredible how information has gone from understanding what has happened, to understanding what will happen, to understanding what all the pieces of information are telling you.

Data-based information is not limited to merely understanding what has happened, but it is also capable of providing clear insights into what it means.

It’s all about understanding what all the pieces of information are saying.

An example that was used in the course described how the retailer Target is able to observe the buying patterns of a female customer to determine if she may be pregnant. Not through obvious maternity-related purchases, but through subtle changes in the purchases of various products that allowed Target to surmise the customer’s condition before even other family members knew.

Many people think of data as primarily a method to better understand sales, but in fact the data provided to me by our Toronto and Vancouver warehouse teams helped me not only write all the job descriptions for the Toronto warehouse but it also helped me to locate and install a leader.

The data that I used for this project came from job self-assessments filled out recently by each employee, as well as from individual follow-up meetings with members of the Toronto team. My objective was not only to make the roles and expectations of the warehouse jobs clearer, but to also shift authority, as much as possible, to the warehouse in a clear and defined way.

Designate the right warehouse leader:

As I analysed the incoming data from the self-assessments and interviews, not only did the jobs become clearer but it also became obvious who the leader should be.

The ideal candidate was a person who had worked as our receiver, and who had been with us since 2009. From his self-assessments it was clear that his role in the warehouse was already closest to that of a leader.

In addition, the warehouse team provided supporting data to me that demonstrated that the members collectively wanted someone who already worked full time in the warehouse in a leadership role, so these two facts made him the best leadership choice. I offered him the role and he accepted. As such he will now be responsible for directing the activities of the warehouse team.

I then asked the rest of the Qualifirst team to support this candidate in his new role, which represents a big change for him, as well as for the rest of the team. The data, and the feedback made me feel that this was the right step for all involved.

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