Proceed with Caution

After completing this module, you will be able to:

1. Describe the biggest challenges to implementing changes using data.
2. Explain how to avoid challenges to implementing changes using data.

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The tasks below will be automatically checked off once you complete watching the video and taking the quiz.


In this module, we’ll discuss the challenges you will likely face when implementing changes using data.


Governance focuses on the policies and procedures surrounding your data strategy. The tricky part is that there are a number of things working against us. There are things within the organization that are going to make applying this kind thinking to your decision-making process and planning challenging. There are also things in our brains that make change challenging, like HiPPOs and the Backfire Effect.

Following an established data governance framework will help you evaluate your current strategy against successful models to ensure you’re not overlooking vital policies or procedures. Without a strong data governance framework, most organizations fail to manage their data efficiently. As a result, the quality suffers and dirty, unstructured data will begin to clog your systems. At this point, you can’t rely on the data to provide valid insights or to be used to form key decision-making processes.

Key obstacles:


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HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion)

The acronym is used to describe the tendency for lower-level team members to defer to higher-level board members when a decision needs to be made.

When HiPPOs are present, discussion may cease, and brainstorming may shift from generating new ideas to generating reasons why an opinion will work. People have a natural tendency to look to the authority in the room for decisions, resulting in the possibility of groupthink and conformity, which can be damaging when there is a problem to solve. If everyone is looking to the HiPPO, then there’s really only one possible solution discussed.

Ignoring the HiPPO


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The Backfire Effect

Sometimes people hold tighter to what they believe as they are given more facts that disprove their beliefs. Source

The Misconception: When your beliefs are challenged with facts, you alter your opinions and incorporate the new information into your thinking.

The Truth: When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.

Experiments show that when people’s beliefs are threatened, they often descend to where facts do not matter. In scientific terms, their beliefs become less “falsifiable” because they can no longer be tested scientifically for verification or refutation. Source

How can we try to convince people to accept facts? Source

  1. Remain indifferent. Emotions can make matters worse and heighten unreasonable thought processes.
  2. Listen carefully to the other person's point of view and make sure you understand their position so there is no confusion over their argument.
  3. Acknowledge that you understand how or why they hold that opinion.
  4. Show respect, always.
  5. Make sure your counterargument is a good argument.
  6. Agree to disagree if you find you’re not able to make progress.

Success metrics

Measurement vs. metric

What is a measurement?

A measurement is a data point at a single point in time. Typical measurements include things like:

  • How many people visited a website in a month
  • How much revenue an organization received last quarter
  • The number of members an association has

Often, the goals set by organizations are based on measurements like these. Out of context, however, these numbers don’t help very much. For example, if you had 10,000 website visitors, but that was the same as the month before, you’re not improving.

What is a metric?

A metric is a data point in context. Typical metrics include things like:

  • The change in website traffic compared to a previous month
  • The change in revenue, month over month
  • The number of association members now compared to the same time last year

A metric considers the past and puts your success (or failure) in context. Plus, a metric encourages continual improvement. If your metric is growing website traffic by 5% a month, you have to keep building upon your success. A metric of growing leads by 10% a quarter encourages continuous and exponential growth.

Outcome metric vs. performance metric

Once you change your mindset from measurement to metric, consider the best metrics to use for your organization.


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See if you understand the concepts by completing the quiz. Click Proceed With Caution Module Quiz to begin.

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