Your analytics team is only as strong as its ability to increase collective business knowledge. At the end of the day, driving results with your organization’s data won’t be achieved by constructing a decision-making machine that replaces your human drivers; it’s all about creating a community of people drumming to the same beat—the mission and purpose of your company—with evidence in hand.
To that end, you have to start thinking about sharing knowledge not as a one-way or even a two-way street, but as a multi-lane intersection. No one road leads to all destinations, and no one way of sharing knowledge is suited to solving all types of problems.
Different teams will have different levels of insight into how the business operates with respect to both internal team knowledge and the knowledge shared between teams. Taken together, there are 4 different levels of knowledge that a team can have.
We call these 4 ways of knowing the Analytics Window, based off of the time-tested tool called the Johari Window. Let’s unpack these 4 ways organizations must communicate in order to succeed in analytics communication.
Open Knowledge. This is the work of your analytics team that others see, such as published reports or dashboards incorporated into the function of the business. Open knowledge is the ideal working condition for analytics teams: knowledge is shared freely both within the group and with other groups.
Blind Spots. This problem arises when others see processes or outputs from your analytics team that you’re not aware of. Maybe it's from soliciting the wrong type of requirements, or maybe it's misunderstanding the use of the analytics or the metrics themselves. It can also be behavioral, like the way your team is perceived by others (e.g. “responsive,” “abrasive”).
Unseen. Hidden projects, reasoning, explanations of KPIs and more can be the cause of communication challenges as well as the source of opportunity. Unseen knowledge can be assets that are not yet serviced or communicated to the business but do exist. The unseen can also be implicit data used to make a decision or guide an action by an executive.
Opportunity Discovery. Opportunity discoveries occur when your team embarks on creating brand-new metrics, combining data sets, or leveraging simulations for the first time; it can reveal amazing discoveries. Once, one of Analytics Guild’s executive partners saw that a retailer was selling a lot of brown belts and brown pants along with a third item you wouldn’t expect: axes! As soon as the client moved inventory placement and put axes near the brown belts and brown pants, there was a 200% uplift in sales. Who could have known?!
The Analytics Window’s goal: open the window and reduce what’s hidden in the organization while pursuing new opportunities together. Let’s see how that’s done:
Understanding your team’s current state of knowledge is the first step to sharing knowledge. And each of these different positions requires a different way of opening the window.
At the most basic level, you must determine whether you must ask for more information or if you need to share the information you have. A team that is performing at a high level of knowledge but is surrounded by low-knowledge teams needs to share, while teams with low knowledge need to ask. The Analytics Window shows that there are 3 types of knowledge-sharing problems, each with their own solutions.
Opening the Window Through:
Asking. Ask others to provide feedback, and ask your team to explain their understanding of the process or problem. This opens up the opportunity to find gaps in knowledge and fill those gaps right from the beginning.
Telling. Communication is key, so practice telling the story about data, release information and organizational best practices, and cast the strategic vision of what information is unknown and how you intend to gather that information.
Blindspots→Feedback. When other teams have useful knowledge that may help your team, the best solution is to elicit feedback from the other teams. Feedback can take many forms, from the formal practice of surveys to informal conversations with team members. Fundamentally, feedback is about making sure information that some individuals know is shared with the whole, so blind spots are illuminated.
Unseen→Sharing. Sometimes one team will have developed a solution to ongoing problems or pain points of another team. Your team has the chance to bring other teams up to speed by sharing existing solutions, documentation, and insights.
Opportunity Discovery→Joint Discovery.The holy grail of analytics is finding the new and exciting insights that impact both the bottom line and the mission of the company. When both parties are in the dark about a problem or opportunity, both parties stand to gain from cooperation.
With the Analytics Window, we’ve taken knowledge-sharing to the next level. As analytics information is shared between teams, it becomes easier and easier for teams to work and solve problems together. It helps prevent information silos and fosters a less isolated, more communicative work environment—and ultimately more happy and engaged teams throughout the organization.
To learn more about how to apply the Analytics Window in your company, contact us today for customizable training and workshops.