Ask the Right Questions

Data literacy is also about asking the right questions, but how do you do that?

To embrace data literacy, organizations need to ensure that the workforce understands not everyone needs to be a data scientist, but can master the key characteristics of data literacy: the ability to read, work with, analyze, and argue with data. One key skill everyone needs to gain throughout the organization for data literacy to succeed is asking the right questions with one’s data. Asking the right questions can ensure the organization is not taking things directly at face value and finds it important to dig within the data and analytics. How can organizations ask the right questions? Are there certain skills individuals can develop to ask the right questions? Let’s examine these questions more with a few tips to asking the right questions.

Tip #1: Build the Foundation

In the new analytics economy, asking the right questions is paramount to success. In order to ask the right questions, we need to start with the right framework. The first tip to asking the right questions is to build the right foundation of knowledge. This foundation of knowledge includes have a strong understanding of the corporate vision and strategy, understanding the context of the situation you are trying to analyze, and familiarizing yourself with the data you will be utilizing.

Understanding the corporate vision and strategy enables one to ensure the questions they are asking aren’t off base or taking them in a direction that will not support insight and data driven decisions. This evolve us to the next piece of understanding context. Context can be everything to asking the right questions. Each individual needs to take it upon themselves to understand the context around the analysis they are doing. Organizations and individuals need to move away from just “reporting” and really drive decisions and insight. Finally, familiarize yourself with your data. By knowing the data and framework around the data, we can know what questions are and aren’t appropriate.

Tip #2: Dig for Why

The second tip to discuss is digging for why. Historically, organizations and individuals have been very focused on the how and the what, essentially focusing on reporting historical data. This is not data driven insight. The shift needs to move from the how and the what of reporting, to the forward thinking of why. Asking questions that dig beyond a KPI or metric will empower and enable you to get beyond the face value of your data and ensure the questions you ask around the data are strong.

Tip #3: Formulate more Questions

The final tip is to ensure you do not stop and think you have found all the answers with your first set of questions. The new analytics economy and world of data promises a lot of answers and insight, but we need to ensure that after we find some answers, we iterate, formulate new questions, and continue on the journey of being data driven organizations.

Data literacy and the new world of data promise to help organizations drive themselves forward. In-order-to utilize this new world correctly and truly be data driven, we need to ensure our organizations are prepared to ask the right questions. As we ask those stimulating questions, we have the ability to help drive success. In your current roles, take a step back and look at what you have been analyzing and asking, ensure you know the business context around what you are asking, ensure you aren’t just looking at reporting but truly getting to why, then look to formulate that second set of questions and more. As you do so, you will start to see the power that your organization has instore, possibly even finding the hidden gems within!

Jordan Morrow shares a few tips that will help you ask the right questions with your data and improve your #dataliteracy!


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