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Dos and Don’ts of Data-Driven Strategy

Do use baseline numbers to see movement on strategic goals

Establish a baseline – what are your numbers today? Likes? Clicks? Visits? Members? Donors? The numbers. You cannot change what cannot be measured so come up with concrete numbers. If they start at ZERO, that’s fine too. Choose a few, so you don’t fall into the trap of tracking just one indicator and getting frustrated as a result.

Don’t try to show everything

Detail is of limited use. It isn’t completely useless though so choose what you show wisely and make sure you understand why you are showing what you are showing. Showing it just because you have it – is not a good reason. Come up with a rationale and if you can’t, leave it behind.

Do have clear goals for what people are supposed to take away

Think through the impact of every piece of data you want to share. What are you achieving by showing that particular piece of data? Be concrete, precise and keep it simple. Individual pieces of data aren’t intended to tell the whole story they are “at-a-glance” communication to support your strategic goals.

Don’t restrict everything so as to render them opaque

Data visualization that doesn’t move is just pictures. The purpose of this exercise should be to make select pieces of your data accessible to your users – still, pictures don’t do that.

Do add text explaining the tools/visualization

You don’t have to spell everything out but giving people a context in the form of text will help them understand the importance of what you are showing. Even dashboards can benefit from explanation and guidance.

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