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Building a Data-Driven Culture in Construction

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The construction industry hasn't leveraged the vast amount of data at its fingertips, most likely because work is done on the ground, not on the computer. While data-producing technology is now readily available from digital apps that connect field and office, artificial intelligence, robotics, and more, the question isn't just how to provide the technology but how to change a company's culture to shift to a data-driven mindset.

 

Forbes writes, "While having the right technology is important, it isn't the area where companies struggle the most…the main challenges to becoming data-driven were people (62.5%) and process (30.0%)—not technology (only 7.5%). This data reinforces the need to take a more holistic approach to nurturing a data-driven culture."

 

Five Ways to Achieve a Data-Driven Culture

 

  1. CHAMPIONS: Locate champions across the company. Forbes recommends starting at the top, "If your leaders don't believe in using data, it's going to be very difficult to expect others to adopt a data-driven mindset." Leading through example is vital. Owners and managers who demonstrate a commitment to the power of data—for instance, backing up their decisions with evidence-based facts—send a message that the company's culture trusts and relies on data.
  2. FLEXIBILITY: Build in flexibility to your data and technology plan. Changes will happen along the way and will occur at every level. Having a digital point-person in each part of your company helps monitor the many pieces of equipment and devices. If your point-person has the ability as well as authority to refine the use of these tools as inevitable changes happen, your company will be well prepared.
  3. SUPPORT: Focus on the rewards and don't go overboard on managing the change. As any good manager will attest, micromanagement leads nowhere fast. Data employed early on can identify weak points, such as the need for training or updates to existing workflows. Most importantly, engaging staff in how to data ensures buy-in. Part of any data-driven plan means helping employees acquire the necessary technology and data literacy to be effective. Having a standard set of terminology and practices from the get-go eliminates confusion and keeps teams on track in organizing and utilizing data enterprise-wide.
  4. SELLING: Communicating with staff in a round-robin fashion uncovers where they see the need for data-driven improvements in their daily work, while company-wide reminders about the progress of achieving a data-driven mindset further engagement. Pointing out the benchmarks and charting achievements through metrics establishes a sense of momentum as you move from old ways of working to what might seem like formidable new systems. Without this internal marketing effort, a change of this magnitude often meets opposition that can extinguish enthusiasm, grinding everything to a halt. It is easier than you think; short, sweet celebrations of quick wins along the way can yield significant results. HBRnotes, "Even ordinary, incremental progress can increase people's engagement in the work and their happiness during the workday."
  5. EYES ON THE PRIZE: Finally, focus on what truly is mission critical. Ask what provides the most value to your business's core proposition. It is easy to fall in love with the apps and the gadgets themselves, particularly in the fast-paced world of technology development. Relying on expertise from companies specializing in data procurement and digital tools for your industry can be a make-or-break move. Upwardsleader.comwrites, "Many companies, and leaders, in particular, can veer off their core principles and mission through intended and unintended pursuits…The leaders that keep an organization mission-critical will ensure that the core focus, personnel, and financial means are funneled to the company's strengths and most important objectives."