Technology has seen a big leap in the past decade. We are all connected, day and night, via our smartphones. We can talk to anyone, make purchases, and find answers to our questions whenever we want, wherever we want.
We’ve quickly grown accustomed to having answers at our fingertips, and we’re increasingly expecting the same at our workplace. Part of our expectation comes from our innate curiosity. When we encounter something new, we want—and need—to know more. Knowledge is rewarding because it “dispels undesirable states of ignorance and uncertainty,” says researcher Jonathan Litman. It freaks us out when we can’t figure something out. We want to know why something happened so that we can avoid—or repeat—the same outcome in the future.
This doesn’t mean we simply want the final answer or outcome; we want to be a part of the discovery process. The driver of our curiosity is a need for understanding—the what, the why, the how, the what-for. And answers alone don’t help us understand as much as the discovery process leading up to the answers. Together, they provide a complete understanding with which we can avoid the bad, replicate the good, and find new opportunities.
As we try to gain understanding and find those answers, we have data to help. More and more data is being captured—in our personal lives and also within our organizations. This data gives us the facts, the truth, the objective view of what has happened. Data is knowledge, and when people are empowered to explore and ask questions using their data to make everyday decisions, they can find the understanding, insights, and opportunities they seek.
That’s where a culture of analytics comes in. In this culture, organizations provide an environment in which employees can explore and find answers with their data, satisfying their curiosity and driving the business forward.
And yet our workplace tools don’t always provide us with access to the data we want and need to find those answers. Nor do those tools allow for discovery, exploration, or a way to understand.