It also takes everyone on a team—not just a few—to grow a business. While leaders at every level know they need strategic data to lead their companies, most people on your team need it as well to do their jobs better. In sum, everyone needs access to data. It helps them understand customers, products, and processes to make more informed decisions. A key question becomes how to empower employees with strategic data—and let go of the reins. How do you begin to distribute strategic data company-wide from the leaders to the most junior persons on the team?
Data Accessibility is a Retention Issue
As companies scale their organizations, data accessibility becomes a retention issue. When leaders only want to share strategic data with select members, resentment can fester among those who feel left out. Unfortunately, this often leads to negative feelings toward the leader and the company. Think about it. We live in an era of transparency. Teams, especially younger ones, expect strategic data to get shared.
Let’s make it very simple. Imagine if the only people who had access to your CRM were the CSO and CFO. The rest of the company would miss out on vital data to help them do their jobs better. For instance, it allows them to outsmart technology and understand what it is they need—and not. In reality, leaders have to let go of the reins and insist data flow throughout the company. And if they have strategic data to make it accessible to everyone.
Be Clear About the Data You Need
As your company scales, it's essential to be clear about the data you need. When you first start, the chances are you track everything you can. However, you’re more strategic in collecting data as the company grows. For example, let's say you want to optimize your leads. It’s great that you track your marketing and sales metrics, but you have to speak a common language. Leads for your marketing team may not be the same for sales. So, getting clear about strategic data—and what that means—helps everyone on the team pull in the same direction.
If you want to understand how to empower employees and their use of data, you have to clarify language within your company. Moreover, you have to realize and internalize the fact that data is power. All those silos in your company; yea, you know the ones. That's people trying to control the flow of data within your company. And it's done to retain influence and power. Instead, as the leader, you want data—all of it—to flow throughout the business. In other words, you want to flip the script on its head and pull the rug out from under anyone harvesting data for themselves.
Make Sure Everyone Knows Why They Need the Data
When you know what data you want, it's essential to ensure everyone on the team knows why they need that data. Moreover, you want everyone to realize they have a right to access data, including strategic data. Train your managers to be transparent with data. For instance, if a manager wants to collect conversion data, let teams know what managers will do with that data.
All leaders need to explain to teams why they need data—and why it matters. It’s also helpful to have a strategy for collecting data and then communicate that strategy to your team. For example, you might decide to create a standard dashboard that outlines the information you need from each division. In addition, you want to share it among all divisions. If you make sure everyone knows why that has to happen, they’re more likely to collect and share it.
Make Strategic Data Easy to Find and Use
Back to the question of how to empower employees with strategic data. As your company scales, data gets more and more scattered in many companies. But, making all data easy to find and use across the organization is essential. So, what's the simplest way to do it at a time of technology overwhelm and tech bloating? Quite simply, a single-spine architecture. In other words, technology gets created on the same tech frame, not the cut/paste job many companies do. Marketing, sales, finance, and operations should have the same technology spine. In so doing, you make it incredibly simple for all team members to find and use data.
Help Leaders Run Their Squads Better
On top of helping you understand customers and the business, strategic data also help everyone understand other divisions, squads, and teams. For instance, you can use data to understand what other divisions are working on, how quickly they’re going to market, and where they’re stuck. Let’s say your R&D team has a new product you want to get to market. Marketing and sales are ready to go.
But something came up, and the product failed to live up to expectations (like Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse). Other teams need to know that information, and they need to know it in real-time. Remember, a company's teams are co-dependent. So as an initiative gets developed, other areas are doing their parts to make it a reality. Still, in a world of fail fast and often, not everything gets to market. Teams and divisions impacted by delays or failures need real-time information to make the best informed decisions about their work. It shouldn't be a game of telephone.
Don't Forget About Getting Feedback
Don’t forget about collecting strategic data for how to empower employees. If you create a culture where you insist on the flow of information, you want them to tell you what they need to ensure it happens. In other words, you want to hear from your teams what they need to allow data to flow throughout your business. For instance, you can use company-wide surveys and evaluations to help you understand the culture of your teams.
Those tools can help you understand how to best support your team members. Whatever methods you choose to get team insights, make sure it’s easy for everyone to access and contribute. Remember, data collection is a huge part of growing your company. It's crucial to understand what data you need, why you need it, and how to make it easy for everyone to find and use. Moreover, you want everyone to feel free to express themselves and talk about the challenges and successes around data.
Data is About Growing Your Company as a Whole
When people think about strategic data, they often think about a company’s leadership. However, strategic data can help everyone on a team better understand customers, fellow teams, products, and your value proposition. So, data is not just about growing the business or the bottom line—it’s about growing your company. Creating a culture where data flows freely through the company is critical to success. Remember, data is power. Everyone knows it. Therefore, when you know how to empower employees and allow data to flow freely, you inform everyone and allow them to make more informed—and better—decisions.
Ben Stroup is Chief Growth Architect and President at Velocity Strategy Solutions where he helps leaders design, develop, and deploy smarter business growth strategies. Ben is a futurist, disruptor, and data champion. He leads a team that takes a structured learning approach to business challenges, which allows them to assist leaders in bridging the gap between ideas, innovation, and revenue—taking ideas from mind to market.
Velocity Strategy Solutions is an on-demand, next-generation business strategy and management consulting firm which provides clients with a relentless focus on data, execution, and results that positively impact the bottom line. Velocity delivers integrated people and revenue strategies combined with a disciplined approach to growth architecture that elevates the capacity of leaders, teams, and organizations to succeed and win more.