AoF 47: Why you should STOP saying “Data Literacy” w/ Donald Farmer

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Tune in to hear from someone I call the ‘Yoda of BI’. Donald Farmer is a well-known name in the BI field and he’s here today to set the record straight on why you should stop saying data literacy. He deeply dissects the main challenges of the word ‘literacy’ and more importantly, how to think about it and how to correctly present it to users without insulting them.

Donald Farmer is the Founder of TreeHive Strategy, where he consults on governance, compliance issues, and self-service architectures. He’s also a former Microsoft and Qlik Exec, whose writings are well known in the industry. Together, we discuss and debunk different data literacy myths.

"If you are a data business, you really need to be an analytics business because data without analysis is not even an asset. It’s actually a cost center." [19:49]


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3 Knowledge Bombs

  • Donald on Data Literacy - If you want your organization/team to be data literate, communicate with them using data.
  • Donald on Storytelling Techniques - Focus on the here and now, not fabrications.
  • Donald on How to Dialogue - Think and communicate differently to get new perspectives and spark ideas.

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • [04:00]  - Are you literate or illiterate? The terminology is insulting and degrading.
  • [09:25]  - Natural Rebel: Think differently about established ideas to get a new perspective.
  • [10:18]  - Treehive Strategy: Donald consults on governance, compliance issues, and self-service architectures.
  • [12:15]  - Remember to meditate to take care of your mental health during difficult times.
  • [15:10]  - Donald’s career has gaps, just like his knitting, but includes Microsoft to Qlik.
  • [17:07]  - Key Quote: I think sometimes people think that you chase success. I chase challenge because I want to do what’s difficult. - Donald Farmer
  • [19:38]  - Key Quote: Every business today is a data business. - Donald Farmer
  • [21:23]  - What is data literacy? Ability to communicate with data as a subject matter.
  • [36:53]  - Storytelling Stages and Shortcuts: Focus on the here and now, not fabrications.
  • [41:07]  - Key Quote: (Data) is the numerical representation of the basic things that are happening in our business world. Walk back down to the data level. - Donald Farmer
  • [41:35]  - Data Informed vs. Data Driven: What’s the difference? Gut decisions.
  • [55:20]  - Core Terminology: Change data literacy to data competency, data communication, or data dialogue as the ability to communicate with data.
  • [01:01:40]  - Donald’s New eBook: Innovating.
  • Right-click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

“If you want your team to be data literate, the number one thing you can do is communicate with them using data.” [47:44]

Links and Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Donald recommends reading and watching:
  • Check out some of our free resources!

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Mico Yuk

Mico Yuk

As the Co-founder and CEO of BI Brainz, I've been in the Business Intelligence/Analytics industry since 2009. Trained 10K+ using our methodologies and frameworks! I love our amazing team and community! I share my passion for data to 20,000+ followers via the Analytics on Fire Podcast, our BI Brainz academy, blog, social media, global keynotes, training, and workshops. Our model is simple. We take what is successful for our customers and teach it! I'm a bonafide beach bum on days off!
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