How I use data in the boardroom


There are 5 key reasons that I use data in the boardroom. Having an agile BI tool allows me to make decisions on the spot with updated real-time data. 

Here is how data talk always makes it into the Boardroom and promotes agility throughout the organization. 

1.Open and honest data leads to open and honest conversations. I am a strong believer that numbers should be transparent. Data shouldn’t be boring or feel like a chore, it should be the driver for conversations. Managers should be exceptional at data storytelling so employees feel comfortable enough to ask questions and provide feedback or comments. 

I love the book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Dysfunction #2 highlights fear of conflict. This is also known as the site of artificial harmony. I use data (and good storytelling skills) to avoid artificial harmony tendencies. 

Patrick Lencioni says, “If we don’t trust one another, then we aren’t going to engage in open, constructive, ideological conflict. And we’ll just continue to preserve a sense of artificial harmony.” Have you ever been in a meeting where one person is speaking and everyone else is smiling and nodding their head? That is artificial harmony. I want our team to be engaged, understand the data, connect with it, ask questions and comment. Data gives life to what is happening in the organization and I find it eliminates artificial harmony in meetings. 

2.Data builds better strategy and helps drive change. One cannot plan ahead without numbers and data analysis. In our meetings we like to discuss our current strategy and revisit our strategy map. We evaluate based upon real time data and real outcomes rather than turning it into a guessing game. Strategy discussions don’t have to drag out over multiple days or weeks, but we can make quick decisions based on valuable content. 

3.Sending reports to staff before we meet. When our sales team gets together to strategize I like to send out data reports in advance so people can put their thoughts together prior to the meeting. Data helps us make great use of our time because reporting is an asset not a headache. 

4.If someone on our team wants to ask questions and drill deeper, we have the ability to do so on the spot and not let the passion or the question leave the boardroom. I’ve seen too many companies with great ideas and great questions, once it leaves the boardroom it seems to more often than not disappear in the background. With our BI tool we can get instant, valuable insights and dig in multiple directions. This is where the data visualizations come in to play – information simplified is information well retained. There’s something so empowering about live data changing right in front of your eyes. 

5.I believe that data should be shared by all, it should illicit passion with everyone. Data aligns departments, strategy and people. We have found in our own organization that performance increases when everyone is using analytics (or shown the numbers) and tracking their performance because it provides accountability in the workplace.  

Data can always have a seat at our boardroom table.