Make data your superpower by learning the language and how to share insights with your team

Posted on

In mid-19th century London, a doctor used points on a map to discover the source of a cholera outbreak. By plotting individual cases of the disease, he was able to “see” that it was water born and affected people clustered around a particular pump in a crowded neighbourhood. It was a major breakthrough that eventually led to the building of London’s sewer system and the birth of modern epidemiology. It was also one of the earliest examples of what we now call data analytics.

What is especially noteworthy about the story, apart from the medical advance it describes, was the way a non-data specialist, a doctor, was able to create a picture that revealed a valuable insight and persuade others of what caused the disease. It was essential intelligence that informed decisions by city officials for years to come and even improved water service to the people who paid for it.

Today, data helps business leaders gain important – and sometimes surprising – insights in into what customers want and even when they might want it. But as data gathering became the field of specialists, the challenge of how to communicate what it all means sometimes lagged behind. The key for business leaders was to know how to use data to gain information and communicate it to their teams.

The Schulich Executive Education Centre’s Masters Certificate in Analytics for Leaders is specifically designed to give executives the tools they need to turn streams of data into usable business intelligence. This is not a technology course: it’s about innovation, communication and strategic leadership.

Recent participants in the program were excited to learn the power of analytics and how they could learn to speak to data experts and turn their work into action plans for success. “The examples where analytics helped generate breakthrough” impressed one, while another reported that “I learned to think about what my superpower is: the ability to connect the dots between user needs and business needs and translate them into visual outcomes.”

Good data is essential to the strategic planning that takes place among senior leaders, many of whom are learned in business practice but unfamiliar with the technical aspects of collecting data. One participant reported that he gained “a better understanding of the integration of analytics into the boardroom discussion”.

Participants also said they enjoyed learning “how to incorporate data teams into the business better” and “how to lean on the strengths of an individual who excels in data science”. It’s always better if you can speak the language.

Every SEEC program is intended to give participants knowledge they can use immediately and several of them noted the program “provided a very nice connection between theory and practice” with “real-world examples” to discuss in breakout sessions with their peers.

*

The Schulich Executive Education Centre’s Masters Certificate in Analytics for Leaders (starting Sept. 16, 2021) is a 13-day program delivered in six modules over four months. For more information and to register, visit the program web page.

Related Articles