3 Principles to legitimize your Data Practices

data practices - spreadsheet
data practices - spreadsheet

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Have you ever wondered why your staff is using Excel spreadsheets and Google Docs to track data when you have a perfectly good central database for that purpose?

We see this problem over and over. If data is warehoused in disparate files, its value is seriously diminished. Plus, overall efficiency suffers whenever you actually try to use the data


In his book David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell speaks about the legitimacy of authority. While his context is political, the principles apply to maintaining alignment around data practices.

Specifically, Gladwell says three principles must be followed to a group to recognize legitimate authority. First, the constituents (in this case your staff) must feel they have a say in the rules and policies. Second, the policies need to be widely viewed as fair. And finally, the rules need to be applied consistently across the spectrum of participants.

Our clients that successfully leverage their investment in constituent data have implemented these practices, albeit without being explicit. First, they have a Data Committee that crosses departmental boundaries and has strong leadership backing. The Committee then negotiates the policies and rules around data management, and then serves as the enforcing agent throughout the organization.

So, if your data is scattered and people hate their reporting cycles, consider this approach BEFORE spending money.

Allan Huntley

Author Allan Huntley

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