Data Literacy; A Sprint Or A Marathon?
By James Hickman, Managing Director
South Africa Qlik Master Reseller
Can you derive meaningful information from your data? If not, you definitely need to consider improving your data literacy. According to a global report; “Data literacy is a critical skill to develop a more effective workforce while also helping students become more attractive job candidates.”
Yet, as we strive to develop data literacy across organisations and educational or training institutions, the question arises, how quickly does this need to be done?
According to Jordan Morrow, Global Head of Data Literacy at Qlik, adopting a culture of data literacy does not happen overnight. “Data literacy is like the journey of an ultramarathon, not a sprint. While data literacy will have many milestones that feel like finish lines in races, it is an ongoing challenge that we take on to improve our skills.”
Achieving Continuous Development
Here are Morrow’s top four tips:
- There Will Be Obstacles to Overcome
Embarking on the journey of learning a new skill often comes with setbacks, delays and detours. “Ultramarathons hit a trail runner with many road bumps to overcome, with some being unexpected. The key is to push on. While we learn new skills within data literacy, such as data storytelling or asking strong questions, it is inevitable we will hit obstacles along the way,” advises Morrow.
- Failure is Improvement, Not the End of the Road
Failure may be demotivating, but it should be seen as an opportunity to learn, grow and develop. According to Morrow; “We will experience failure as we continue to improve our data literacy skills. Take the time to learn and not panic from it. One of my favorite quotes, that I use frequently, comes from Nelson Mandela: ‘I never lose. I either win or I learn’.”
- Use Your Skills to Help Others Succeed
When competing in the famous Leadville 100-mile ultramarathon, Morrow realised that marathons and the data literacy journey have unique similarities. “I had the opportunity to pace and crew my friend. To pace means to help my runner keep the pace up as he suffers through painful and long miles. To crew means helping your runner with the needs they have such as; nutrition, aches and pains, equipment, etc.”
The comparison he drew was that, in the pursuit of data literacy, we need to be willing to help those who are trying to succeed. “In an ultramarathon, this may mean doing things at times that are not convenient, like pacing through the night. In data literacy, be willing to do things that may seem inconvenient.”
- Ask the Experts
There’s no reason to go it alone. There is no shame in asking for advice. “Just as runners seek help from pacers and crew, we who are looking to improve our data literacy should seek help and advice from ‘helpers’. There are many who have skills we do not have, don’t be afraid to ask and utilise their help,” concludes Morrow.