Building an Analytical Culture

Though the future of organizational success lies in the ability of leaders to build and maintain an analytical culture, the reality is that many of them are not currently there. Starting today, these organizations can begin creating an analytical culture by changing individual attributes and behaviors that over time create a culture proficient in the use of analytics (Davenport et al., 2010).

To build an analytical culture, organizational leaders need to encourage their people to search for truth (Davenport et al., 2010). This is accomplished by setting aside traditional actions as institutions, and seeking the truth about business operations; through the use of rigorous objective logic, casting off preconditions and bias, and questioning the status quo and conventional wisdom employees are free to creatively find answers outside of the box that may provide competitive edge and newly discovered successes (Davenport et al., 2010). By rewarding those who possess the best data-driven insights, the culture shifts towards a desire for truth and seek innovation (Davenport et al., 2010).

Another way to build an analytical culture, organizational leaders must utilize data to analyze an issue rather than simply giving stories. Using stories are vital for vision-casting, inspiration, and helping individuals make sense of the reality they are experiencing (Bochner et al., 1997), however, too often organizational leaders use them for decision-making and problem analysis. A non-analytical culture relies on stories and anecdotes to support decisions, but an analytical culture seeks out data that reveals the truth of what is truly happening (Davenport el al., 2010). Both data and narrative are vital to organizational success, however both must be used properly: data should be used to analyze situations and come to proper decisions and narratives should then be deployed to inspire, motivate, and encourage the organization toward action.


Bochner, A. P., Ellis, C., & Tillman-Healy, L. M. (1997). Relationships as stories. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of personal relationships: Theory, research, and interventions (2nd ed., pp. pp. 107–124). Chichester, England: Wiley.

Davenport, T. H., Harris, J. G., & Morison, R. (2010). Analytics at work: smarter decisions, better results. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press.


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