Do you speak data? Does your boss? In part three of the Sherlock Holmes and compliance 5-part series, Tom discusses the role of the corporate compliance officer in translating data for decision-makers and provides some tips for making sure you’re understood by those who are less data-savvy.
- Content from today’s episode comes from a Sloan MIT Management Review article, entitled “Why Your Company Needs Data Translators” by Chris Brady, Mike Forde, and Simon Chadwick. Tom uses a Conan Doyle story called The Adventure of the Speckled Band to highlight Holmes’ skill as a data translator and thus introduce today’s topic.
- In Brady, Forde, and Chadwick’s article, they discuss the disconnect between decision makers and number crunchers – referring to this breakage as the “interpretation gap”. They propose some solutions which can also be very valuable to compliance professionals.
- Data Hubris: Despite the large numbers, Big Data isn’t a substitute for some good old-fashioned detailed collection and analysis. Make sure to keep the human element at the center.
- Decision-making biases: Overconfidence bias occurs when you believe a process will help you to make a decision. Emotional bias occurs “when the decision maker lets the outside noise influence his decisions.” Make sure to avoid both.
- Understanding and speaking the data language: In order to communicate without aggressively reductive translation, use data visualization, process simulation, text and voice analytics, and social media analysis to bring the data to life.
- Brady, Forde, and Chadwick pose a list of skills they believe a data translator needs in today’s business environment. Tom has adapted the list for the CCO or compliance practitioner.
- Sufficient knowledge of the business side to pass the “street cred” test with executive decision makers. This means more than simply being able to read a spreadsheet but understanding your organizations business processes;
- Sufficient analytics knowledge – or a willingness and ability to acquire it – to communicate effectively with the organization’s data scientists. As data analytics are not taught or even valued in law school education, if you are a lawyer, you will have to work on this going forward;
- The confidence to speak the truth to executives, peers, and subordinates. Hopefully, your organization values and respects your voice as a CCO. If not, you certainly have larger problems than poor data translations;
- A willingness to search for deeper knowledge about everything. Look at any great CCO and you will find someone who is infinitely curious;
- The drive to create both questions and answers in a form which others in your organization find accessible and, most importantly, useful;
- An extremely high sense of quality standards and attention to detail. This is probably a defining quality of most lawyers; and
- The ability to engage at a team or organizational meetings without being asked for input. As a CCO or compliance professional, you have to be willing to speak up if something has gone off track.
- Brady, Forde, and Chadwick end with two techniques which lend themselves to greater CCO communication skills:
- Connect with decision makers through questions, not assertions. Using data to setup questions for senior management can allow them to find the answer themselves.
- Use data to create compelling stories that can be understood and utilized by readers and viewers.
Why Your Company Needs Data Translators by Chris Brady, Mike Forde, and Simon Chadwick
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