What's in this podcast?

In this episode Jason talks to Antony Marlow, data strategist and leader of data management practice at Cynozure. Previously, he has had a long career in data leadership including time as a Chief Data Officer. Antony has a particular interest and expertise in the role of change in data strategy and its impact on an organisation, which is the central topic of today’s podcast. 

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One big message

There is a saying that the only constant in life is change. However, the way you approach change in an organisation can be the difference between an extremely positive experience and a negative one. 

[00:55] Antony’s early career as a business analyst and his transition to data

[04:50] How change occurs in data leadership and transformation

[08:14] Varying levels of change and how they affect an organisation

[12:50] Rapid change versus incremental change

[16:09] What can cause resistance to change

[22:15] Dealing with fear factors and process changes

[26:59] The role of technology in change

[29:10] Applying known change tactics from academia and other industries to data

[31:29] The top 3 things to help facilitate change in your organisation

Change and data

To improve in business means continual change. Whether it is driven by internal factors such as business goals, or externally such as competition or technological advancements there is no doubt that change is always required. Data can provide a positive feedback loop which drives continual improvement in an organisation. This is because data is needed to help business analysts and leaders drive decisions that will get an organisation to the next level, while at the same time monitoring the effect of change. 


Levels of change 

There are many different levels of change which can range from refining something that already exists, through to facilitating digital transformation programs. Sometimes organisations may find themselves in a situation where massive change is needed quickly which can cause disruption. In this case the main way to manage people’s expectations is by clearly communicating what is happening, why its taking place and where you expect to get to.. 

If you have a bit more time you can implement change iteratively and soften the blow of large scale change, especially if the change affects multiple employees across different departments. 


Facilitating change

Change is never easy, but it is often necessary in order to improve or adapt to new circumstances. When facilitating change, it is important to take people’s fears and concerns into account. People may feel threatened or disenfranchised by change, especially if they do not understand why it is necessary. If you can make the case for why the change is needed and how it will benefit everyone, you can help people see that it is necessary and worth going through any discomfort that may come with it. In addition, data can be very helpful in facilitating change and showing why the proposed changes will be beneficial. 


Implication of process change

When major changes need to take place due to technology evolving there are a couple of things that need to be carefully considered to reduce friction. Firstly, you need to consider whether or not the people making the decisions behind the change are properly empowered. If there is uncertainty in decision making it can often cause unnecessary delays and create friction in implementing changes. 

How we process and change is also dependent on our leadership and other ‘soft’ skills such as bargaining and negotiation. This is why both personal and professional development are needed to enrich company culture.


Top principles of change within an organisation

Change in the datasector is relatively new but change is well researched and there are lessons that can be learned from other industries andsome common principles that come from academia and other industries that are applicable to change in data:

  1. Create a platform for change, by making it part of the organisation’s culture
  2. Get support and engagement from peers through good communication
  3. Make the change sustainable and sticky



With the use of data, change can be implemented and monitored quicker and more effectively. However, business leaders still need to keep in mind the implications of change and how it will affect other parts of the organisation such as the people and culture. 


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