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Antti SuikkanenApr 26, 2023 10:43:30 AM3 min read

Being data-driven is all about people

In today's business world, data-driven leadership has become increasingly important. Gone are the days when relying solely on expertise and intuition was enough. With the abundance of data available at our fingertips, leaders must leverage this information to make informed decisions that will drive their organization's success. However, it is important to note that not all data is equally helpful, and leaders must still keep their intuition and expertise involved.

Keeping all of this in mind, in studies it has been shown that only less than 2% of leaders feel that they are actually data-driven. But what is more amazing is that over 90% feel that they need or want to be more data-driven when making decisions or leading strategic goals.

The need and the will are there – maybe we just have to provide better tools, insights, and information to support leaders and organizations in adopting this


Data makes abstract things measurable

Data can reveal valuable insights that may have otherwise remained abstract. By analyzing various types of data, such as people data, leaders can better understand their organization's culture, capability, efficiency, and leadership. However, it is crucial to remember that data is usually the result of something, such as showing trends or forecasting based on something that happened in the past. This is where the human factor comes into play – interpretation requires human expertise and intuition.


"Data is usually the result of something, such as showing trends or forecasting based on something that happened in the past."


Being data-driven is not solely about the data; it is also about combining data with people to make the best-informed decisions based on data, know-how, and intuition.

This is what I feel data-driven leadership is mostly about.


Collect data that counts

To get started with data-driven leadership, leaders must first clearly define their goals, strategy, and key performance indicators (KPIs). By doing so, they can better understand what data they need to measure and analyze to support their goals and strategy. It is crucial to avoid taking excessive amounts of data that do not support goals or strategy.


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For example, in startups, too much data, measuring, and KPIs can become noise that blocks and buries the signals needed to focus.

A good example was a startup that stated they follow at least 20 metrics on their money and customers. I asked,” Great, but how do you measure the force that makes all of this happen – Your people?” The answer was ”We don’t”. Therefore, starting with a few important metrics and adding on if necessary can be beneficial. Additionally, leaders must involve and inform their employees or team about the data-driven approach. Communicating and reasoning findings and results with the team is essential to achieve success.


Stay ahead of the constant changes

You also have to remember that data is constantly changing, so leaders must be prepared to monitor and adjust their strategies based on data analysis. It is not sufficient to analyze data once a year and be satisfied. Leaders must make it part of their way of work to stay ahead of the game.


"Leaders must be prepared to monitor and adjust their strategies based on data analysis."


When it comes to implementing data-driven leadership, there are some Do's and Don'ts to keep in mind.

  • Leaders must select the right tools to obtain the necessary data, schedule measuring cycles, and identify necessary actions.
  • They must improve and adjust a few things at a time, avoiding making huge leaps and adjustments unless it is required.
  • Finally, leaders must be aware of confirmation bias, using data to guide their decision-making and be prepared to change their opinion if it is backed by data. Selective data that supports ready-made opinions does not serve the purpose of being data-driven.


In conclusion, data-driven leadership is crucial for success in the modern business world. Leaders must leverage data to make informed decisions while keeping their intuition and expertise involved. It is important to involve and inform employees or team members, define clear goals and KPIs, and be prepared to monitor and adjust strategies based on data analysis. By implementing data-driven leadership, leaders can drive their organizations toward success while leveraging the power of data.


Antti Suikkanen

One of the biggest lessons in life I've learned is that being a leader is a job. That's why I'm dedicated to helping leaders succeed in their job by finding critical data about their businesses with digital tools.