What's in this podcast?

In this episode, Jason Foster talks to Greg Freeman, CEO and Founder of the Data Literacy Academy.

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One big message

Data education is never a waste as it encompasses a set of skills that help in future-proofing an organisation. However, you need to ensure when you are running a data education program it meets the needs and skill level of the target audience otherwise it can lead to confusion and distrust. 

00:40 What Greg’s organisation does

01:20 Examining the traditional definition of data literacy

04:40 How someone’s past experience with maths and science can impact confidence

08:30 Why everyone within an organisation should have some level of data literacy

14:45 Mistakes that occur when creating data literacy programs

27:19 The impact of mistakes on education and training in addition to wasting time and resources

32:00 What businesses need to help support education

Instilling confidence and mindset when it comes to data literacy

Data literacy is the ability to read, interpret, and communicate data effectively. With the increasing importance of data-driven decision making in businesses and everyday life, it has become essential to develop a strong foundation in data literacy. However, many people face challenges and may feel overwhelmed when learning this new skill. A key factor to consider when teaching data literacy is instilling confidence and cultivating a positive mindset in learners.

For example, when someone uses a phone for the first time, they’re really excited to use it but then what happens is that when they keep making errors they get frightened. However, if there is a lack of positive reinforcement around to help them overcome the ‘’flight’’ response, then they are less likely to keep investing time in learning and mastering the new skill. A good data literacy program is there to help them through this process so they become more confident in their own ability to work with data. A nurturing and inclusive learning environment helps learners feel more comfortable in taking risks and making mistakes.


The link between data culture and literacy

While many data literacy programs focus on data specialists and enthusiasts, it is equally crucial to engage those who may not have much interaction with data in their daily roles. This is where the connection between data culture and literacy becomes critical.

Developing a data-driven mindset among all employees, regardless of their job roles, contributes to a strong data culture. Encourage curiosity, critical thinking, and an analytical approach to problem-solving. Make data accessible and ensure that employees feel comfortable asking questions and exploring data-driven insights.

It is also essential to approach data literacy programs with flexibility and adaptability to cater to different learning styles, preferences, and levels of experience. Providing diverse learning opportunities, such as workshops, webinars, and self-paced online courses, can help accommodate the needs of various learners.


Common mistakes people make when creating a data literacy program

Viewing it solely as an educational program:

Data literacy programs should be viewed as more than just educational initiatives. They should be designed to empower employees, foster a data-driven culture, encourage collaboration, and ultimately change behaviour. Avoid focusing solely on the educational aspect, and instead, create a comprehensive program that addresses the various needs of the organisation.

Best Practice: Be patient, engage stakeholders, and conduct a needs analysis. Take the time to understand the organisation’s unique data literacy needs and ensure that the program is tailored to address those needs effectively.

Overlooking the importance of executive buy-in:

Ignoring the top-down approach can be detrimental to the success of a data literacy program. Executive support is crucial for driving organisational change and implementing accountability.

Best Practice: Create champions at the executive level by engaging them before rolling out the program. Gain their buy-in and demonstrate the value that data literacy can bring to the organisation.

Failing to grow data confidence and communication:

Data professionals often struggle to communicate or create conversations around their work, leading to a disconnect between data teams and the rest of the organisation.

Best Practice: Encourage data professionals to share their insights and knowledge with others. Provide opportunities for collaboration and cross-functional learning, fostering a sense of community and understanding around data.

Neglecting the needs and perspectives of potential students:

Business professionals may not always be interested in the “cool” aspects of data that excite data professionals. It is essential to consider the needs and perspectives of different employees when designing the curriculum.

Best Practice: Create personas or avatars of potential students and tailor the curriculum to their unique perspectives and requirements. Conduct baseline assessments to understand the specific needs of individuals and teams, and incorporate those insights into the program.


The consequences of not creating a proper data literacy education program

The consequences of not creating a proper education program can have far-reaching impacts on an organisation and its employees. One significant consequence is the erosion of trust. If employees feel that the organisation has not invested in their professional development or provided adequate learning opportunities, they may become disengaged and lose faith in the organisation’s commitment to their growth.

Moreover, an ineffective education program can lead to confusion and misunderstandings among employees, potentially leaving them worse off than they were initially. This confusion can further contribute to the breakdown of trust within the organisation.

In addition to the impact on employee trust, a poorly designed education program can hurt the organisation’s reputation. As word spreads about the inadequacy of the program, it may become more challenging to attract and retain top talent. A damaged reputation can also impact the organisation’s ability to build and maintain partnerships with other businesses or clients.



Investing in a comprehensive data literacy program and effective education initiatives is crucial for the long-term success and resilience of an organisation. Addressing common mistakes, engaging stakeholders, and fostering a data-driven culture can lead to increased trust, improved reputation, and stronger relationships. By providing employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their roles, organisations can cultivate a thriving workforce and maintain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving data-driven landscape.

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