5 Steps to Better Data-Driven Decisions

Published by Leadership Network | July 23, 2019 | 3 min read

Are you carrying the burden of decision making for your church?

There are five simple steps you can follow toward better data-driven decision making:

1. Review a data dashboard weekly with your leadership team

As church leaders, we should desire to be data-informed and Spirit-led.  Most of us likely are making decisions on a weekly, if not daily basis.  Determine what are the critical metrics in your ministry area, measure, and review them frequently.  Measuring areas of engagement like serving, small groups, attendance, and giving are great places to start.  If you are reviewing these weekly together as a leadership team, you will be more prepared and equipped to make the decisions that come your way each week.  The more we know about our people, the better we can match them to the next step God has for them.

2. Utilize data visualization

Make data visual. There are a few gifted people who can look at a spreadsheet or a set of numbers and see the story the data is telling us. The rest of us need to see a picture. “When data is presented visually, it is easier to digest and find patterns. Business leaders need to be able to interpret data in real-time to effectively make highly informed decisions. One of the best forms of data visualization is utilizing a business intelligence (BI) solution. BI is a technology-driven process where users have the ability to analyze data and present actionable information.”[1]  We need data to be actionable not just interesting. 

I encourage you to check out Life.Church’s ChurchMetrics (it’s free) as a starting point to track and visualize your data.  

3. Clean and validate your data

If you do not have clean and reliable data, you will lose credibility.  Your staff and church need to trust the data and information they are receiving, and so do you.  Whether this is assuring the information in your database is accurate or a consistent way of reporting and counting attendance, credibility in your data matters.  Allowing data to be outdated or inaccurate over time impacts the quality of our decisions. 

4. Do A/B testing

We often try things that fail or others that succeed, and we never fully know why.  Simple A/B testing can allow you to understand what works, what doesn’t and understand why.  An example is when running an ad for your church to try two different images.  One church ran the exact same content with a graphic as the introduction verses the face of their senior pastor, his face outperformed the graphic by a landslide.  If they had just used the graphic, they would have assumed it was the content that wasn’t successful and not the image!

5. Create a culture of data use

It is important to cultivate a culture that embraces data-informed decision making. Creating a data-driven culture is easier than you might think.  As leaders, you can lead by example, making effective data-informed decisions and allowing your staff to see this.   Once your teams can see the impact that maximizing your systems and data can have on your overall mission and vision, you will begin to have a self-enforcing culture.  The loud equals large mentality begins to crumble, and decisions begin to be based more on facts than just on feelings. 

[1] https://www.sikich.com/insight/the-power-of-data-visualization/

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