4 Easy Ways to Encourage Productive Data Conversations This Year

So often, one of the biggest hurdles to using data effectively lies in the conversations we have about the data. What are we trying to study? What data do we need? How should we collect it? What type of analyses will we do? With so many conversations to navigate, we thought we would share some tips for creating space for more productive data conversations in 2019.

People having a productive data conversation

Focus on the End Game

The holidays are a memory, and chances are, your colleagues have shifted their focus to their 2019 goals. However, folks are still energetic and refreshed from the holiday break! That makes this is a great time to connect with colleagues and leaders to find out what goals they have. And once you’ve done that, you can consider how to support them, given your role.

Bring Something to the Table

Delight a leader with new data they didn’t even know they were looking for (using minimal extra time on your part!). Most of us have a number of required reports due throughout the year. While doing compliance work, take a second look at the data. Then, identify any areas that may be of interest and/or align with folks’ goals (see Focus on the End Game above).

Looking at laptop, having a productive data conversation

Go the Extra Mile

Take a few extra minutes to add another variable into the pivot table or other analysis for greater granularity. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised at what you find! For example, if you need to provide data for compliance reporting as a total, disaggregate the data by degree or major. This can serve as a ‘cross check’. For example, is the largest number of students the institution’s largest major? In addition, it gives you another table to discuss in your data conversations with senior leaders.

Sharing is Caring

Share your work widely. We all know to share our work up, but what about across and down? It is important that everyone is informed so that they can incorporate information into their own constructs. Thus – the more people know – the greater the likelihood they can make the connections that might otherwise be missed and offer valuable suggestions and solutions.

Have other suggestions for fostering productive data conversations? Drop them in the comments to share!