This Week: Fostering A Data Driven Culture Post-2015

The United States made a big move on Thursday as it announced DJ Patil as the First US Chief Data Scientist. Patil was at the Strata + Hadoop World Conference when Barack Obama announced the decision via video call before Patil spoke to the audience about Data Science: Where Are We Going. The video can be found here and it is definitely worth watching the 13 minutes as he explains the impacts of data in government. One the topics Patil covers briefly is a data driven culture, and he with Hilary Mason have written a book about it which can be downloaded for free here. While reading the book, I started to consider what the benefits of a data driven culture are.

I came up with four.

Making informed decisions. This is kind of a no brainer because the more data that an organization uses and understand it is easier to move away form anecdotes and historical biases. Data literacy creates a more objective approach to problems and allows for smart decisions.

Accountability. It’s hard to measure progress when there is no data. Clear communication about key metrics with the data to enforce these desired metrics makes it easier to understand priorities.

Better Communication. Presentations with lots of chats and graphs are grated, but they don’t really create discussion. Why is this? One of the main reasons is that people have issues understanding the data in these visualizations and misinterpret the data. Having a data literate workspace with a data driven culture reduces these misinterpretations.

Learning Culture. Data does something that a lot of other topics aren’t able to accomplish and that is the ability to inspire and raise for questions. Data drive organizations often work effectively and ask new and better questions. Understanding and investigating these new and more in-depth questions leads to deeper knowledge and more insights.

So why does this matter to my development organization? The post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals call for a data revolution, and a fundamental part of implementing these goals is fostering the culture that is based not only on the destination, but the road there.


Project Pulse Project-in-Focus

PiF 16

Today we are featuring the 16th Project in Focus of the Project Pulse series: the Tuungane Program in the DRC. This project was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development and implemented by the International Rescue Committee in partnership with CARE in 2006 to support communities' preferred development projects, such as building or renovating schools, markets, health centers, hospitals, roads, wells, and springs. This initiative is one of the largest of its kind in Africa.

Today's This Week post was guest written by Benjamin Arancibia, Technical Associate at Development Gateway and based in Washington, DC. Project Pulse Project-in-Focus updates are written by Katie Paulson-Smith, Assistant to the Co-Executive Director and based at the College of William and Mary.

Tags: culturedata revolutiondj patilbarack obamadata sciencecommunicationSDGproject pulseDRC