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Passion, People & Data

Be more than a data-driven organization. Be a people-driven organization that is smart with data.

When a quarterback throws the winning touchdown, do fans rush the field to congratulate the football? Or when an author wins a Pulitzer Prize, do the critics focus on the paper the novel was written on? No.

While they’re important pieces to success, these achievements aren’t possible without the people who make them happen. Greatness is a quality of a person or organization that makes remarkable impacts on the people, places and things surrounding them. People achieve greatness. People armed with the right support, tools and information.

The same is true for data. Data doesn’t achieve greatness, it’s people and organizations who achieve greatness with data.

When partnering with our clients on their journeys to greatness, Slalom focuses on the numbers that matter:

1 passion that fuels the journey
3 styles of people that make the journey possible
5 steps that help deliver value using data and insights

One passion

Jonny Imerman, founder of Imerman Angels, is passionate about his cause. Diagnosed with cancer at a young age, he created Imerman Angels to provide a support system so nobody has to fight cancer alone. Imerman Angels’ unique matching process partners anyone seeking cancer support with a mentor angel, somebody who typically has faced the same type of cancer before.

The matches they create are based on the quality of their data. Slalom has helped Imerman Angels by implementing data governance best practices on their intake form, which has laid the foundation for a more automatic and efficient matching process. Ultimately, we hope to play a small part in changing the lives of cancer fighters by increasing data quality and the success of matches for years to come.

Jonny is passionate in his work. He and his organization used data to fuel their journey to greatness and provide value to others. Consider your own organization; are you the passionate one creating excitement all around you? Do you look on the bright side and seize opportunities whenever they arise? You may see these behaviors in others, too. If so, empower them to lead the charge and spread their contagious energy.

Three styles

Once you’ve harnessed your passion, turn your attention to the people of your organization. They’re the drivers of transformation, processes, tools, technology and so much more. To create a culture of analytics you’ll want to look for three styles of people:

People who inquire, who see potential, are comfortable with the unknown, ask questions – not just trivia, and have a consistent curiosity.

People who inspire, who tell stories, bring others with them, teach others, and give hope.

People who impact, who create insights and integrate them into decisions, set standards and expectations with others, take actions with insights, take risks, and learn from results and failures.

When these three styles of people come together, you get to the root of business problems and their solutions. You have intuition and insights. And you begin to create an army of champions throughout your organization.

For example, at a major health system provider, an initiative to enter physician orders electronically had hit a snag: it wasn’t getting done. Full compliance wouldn't mean just checking off a step in the administrative process; it would improve patient outcomes across the system. But getting to the bottom of the problem required more than a reminder.

It took inquiry: They had to look into why orders weren’t being entered as hoped. It required a team that was inspired by the opportunity to improve patient outcomes to feed the right data into a dashboard in order to visualize what drove the problem. From there, team members needed to act on insights to support physicians who needed it, making an impact which corrected the process.

Consider the people around you, can you identify those that inquire, inspire and impact? Let them know that you recognize and value these skills they bring to the table. Give them forums to share best practices and build the skills of others around them.

“You need to build advocacy – one organizational structure at a time. Sell the insights person to person.”
Chuck Sample, Vice President, Analytics
US Foods

Five steps

The best solutions often start with a simple question. At a foodservice company, for example, it was whether sales people could improve their effectiveness by spending their time differently. By blending market data with information on the behavior of its own workforce, the client was able to visualize information and forecasts, benchmark themselves against competitors, and identify the highest-potential revenue opportunities.

The result: The foodservice company used the insights to better manage their resources during a period of intensifying competition.

We believe everyone and every organization can achieve greatness, armed with the right support, tools and information. We do it with a simple approach. Here’s how:

    1. Focus on a business problem or opportunity. Forget about data and insights for a second – what are you trying to solve? For Jonny Imerman, it was how to better match patients to a support system. Data happened to be a solution, but he started with the problem.

    2. Blend internal and external data. Consider all data and information that may influence the opportunity at hand. Gather data internally, cross-functionally and externally. Expanding your sources gives you a more complete picture.

    Get creative and mix in sources like social media and news services. At Slalom, we’ve found the most unexpected combinations of data lead to greatest achievements.

    3. Create data models. This is where the rubber meets the road. Based on the business problems you are trying to solve, and based on the data that is available to you, start to build relationships between the data that help you solve your problem.

    At Slalom, we’ve designed a business-oriented modeling process that combines people, data and technology, held together with data governance.

    4. Visualize and tell a story. Armed with new found data and insights, it’s time to spread the word. If you want your data to influence the business, you have to tell a story. Stories are a universal language, spreadsheets…are not. How can you make your data digestible by the masses? How can you make it persuade people to action?

    At Slalom, we have expertise across many data visualization platforms that can help you bring your stories to life. So power up that passion and evangelize your stories and visualizations across your organization. Let the story you built help inform your decisions or the decisions of others.

    5. Act! The time has come to act on the insights you’ve found through your data. This is when businesses evolve, experiences are transformed and the world becomes a better place.

    Remember your passion, partner with those that impact and celebrate success with those that inspire. And when you’re ready, find your next great achievement with the support of those that inquire.

"Data in rows and columns doesn't tell a story and definitely does not inspire. How can you create a narrative around your data to lead people to the meaning and be inspired by your story?"
Eric Sanders, Director, North Central Region
Tableau Software

At Slalom we’ve learned to use data to explain what’s working, to expand what’s working, and to drive change. Because data tells stories that unlock ideas -- insights that become the currency of evangelists.

As your team uses questions to tackle missing information, let the growing body of insights build interest and confidence in what you can do. With the right approach, people get used to feeling that answers exist. Even for difficult questions.

"Do something. Start small. Make tea – you don’t need to boil the ocean.”
Carrie Steyer, Practice Area Director, IM&A
Slalom Consulting

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