As women in business, we’ve all been there.
You’re sitting in a boardroom surrounded by stakeholders. You offer your input on what your company’s next course of action should be, and everyone quickly dismisses your idea.
Differing opinions are inevitable in the business world. And no matter how confident you are, it can be intimidating to stand your ground when emotions are running high and you’re the only one championing an idea.
But if there’s one thing that will win an argument. It’s data.
Knowing the numbers can help you make more informed decisions and strengthen your claims. The most stakeholders can say is that it goes against their instincts, which will seem foolish in the face of hard facts. The key is using data the right way to support your argument.
Let Your Numbers Tell The Story
Most large companies spend more than $1 billion a year on technology. And with the ongoing growth of “datafication,” companies will continue to find opportunities to rethink their business strategies based on information that wasn’t previously available.
You should capitalize on this information when making important decisions and presenting your ideas, but to maximize your argument, you have to approach your company’s analytics holistically.
1. Start with the end in mind
Make sure you know what you want your end result to be, and have that strategy in mind from the beginning. Make sure that your time and thought processes directly impact company goals.
2. Use fact-based decisions
Have the data in your hands, and present it factually. Make sure that every decision is made when you have hard numbers in front of you. Establish a system to regularly analyze your data to develop baselines so you can measure change.
3. Review your metrics
Meet with your team and with employees in every department of your company. Ask probing questions about areas they see as strengths, as well as company pain points.
4. Communicate with confidence
Know that your voice is channeling hard evidence. The goals you establish should be clear, specific, and easy to communicate.
When you employ these tactics, you’ll be able to present your findings as support for your argument and wow stakeholders with your insights.
Let Your Metrics Be Your Mantra
Metrics can be powerful, but simply gathering data isn’t enough — it’s how you evaluate and communicate the metrics you measure that matters. All stakeholders should have a streamlined understanding of why these goals are in place and how certain metrics apply to them.
Here are three red flags that indicate your metrics aren’t working to your advantage:
- They’re too difficult to sift through, and it’s unclear what the results mean.
- It takes an extended amount of time to unearth the results of the metrics you’re measuring.
- They don’t have a functional approach, or they require multiple un-integrated systems to uncover results.
When you have data to back up your ideas, the risk of speaking up is often worth the reward. Still, it’s important to recognize that great choices don’t always lead to great outcomes. A basketball coach choosing his best three-point shooter to take the final shot is a good decision, but statistically speaking, even pro basketball players miss about half the time.
No matter how much data you’ve collected and analyzed, there’s always a chance you will be wrong. All you can do is incorporate relevant data, use it to support your instincts, and present your argument with confidence.
About the Author
Asha Saxena is the president and CEO of Future Technologies Inc., an international data management solutions firm. FTI’s Center for Analytics Services (CAS) provides data management and analytics solutions through business strategy and technology development. Through a pre-built data model, FTI CAS takes complex information and helps crystallize KPIs into user-friendly dashboards.