Building data fluency

All of us are analysts.  We look at a set of information about constituents, campaigns, proposals or gifts, absorb the meaning and make decisions about what we need to do.


When your organization as a whole begins to understand that information is a requirement for any decision making process, you know you’re contributing to a data fluent culture.  But how many of these data fluent cultures really exist?


If you look at Linked In’s published list of the top 25 skills that resulted in traction between job seekers and recruiters in 2014, you’ll see data analytics right at the top.





Even in the face of this overwhelming evidence that data and the analysis of data is strategically important, many organizations struggle with change.  Changing core beliefs and changing attitudes.


In my opinion, this one thing, more than any other, is the first step.  We can communicate factual information to our peers, throughout our organizations, that will begin to replace myths, urban legends and anecdotes.


This article by Rick Groves from the Chronicle of Philanthropy explains it so well.  He gives us 3 actionable ways to promote a culture of data fluency.  Please read the article, it is amazing!

  1. Help people ask better questions.  We can do this by establishing a consistent baseline of understanding, then guiding our peers along a journey of curiosity by examining the information from multiple points of view.
  2. Speak their language.  Endless tables of numbers, lengthy lists and calculations do little to promote understanding.  When the goal is to communicate, illustrate the story with meaningful diagrams.
  3. Be humble.  Our data can only reveal what is captured.  There’s so much more.  As analysts, when we approach our business armed with facts, we also need to approach with curiosity to discover what we don’t yet know.



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2 responses to “Building data fluency

  1. Roya Esfandi

    This is a wonderful post. Thanks Diane!


    Roya Esfandi

    Director of Advancement Services

    South Texas College of Law

    1303 San Jacinto Street

    Houston, TX 77002-7006

    713.646.1796 Office


  2. Pingback: Building a culture of data fluency | APRA Greater Houston

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