Managers and decision-makers in Advancement must learn to speak data

Without the right culture, a great analytics team with all the computing power in the world is a brain without a soul. Large corporations are discovering that technology is not the obstacle to becoming data-driven. People, process, and culture are the obstacle.

Our shops are no different. Our business intelligence analysts are talented, our data is of high quality, and we’ve got the software and infrastructure. But analytics maturity is a whole-organization effort.

Analytics practitioners require three things of managers and decision-makers: Context, challenge, and action.

Context: Analysts learn about business context through the discovery process that precedes analysis. But decisions are owned by people who run programs. They need to approach findings with understanding, not blind faith.

Challenge: Donor behaviour is complex and not amenable to easy and definitive answers. Interpretations can and should be challenged. Analytics teams are not service desks – insert a question and out pops an answer. The process is a conversation, not a transaction. A conversation can only occur between different perspectives that nevertheless carry equal weight.

Action: Analysis, to be effective, is not merely informational. It leads to action. An analyst can’t act, only the manager or decision-maker can.

Operations can get very good at translating between the data and the business, but staff across Advancement must be able to speak the language.

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