4 things we’ve learned about building a culture of analytics

Analytic cultures are often born out of necessity; in other words, people turn to data when the going gets tough or the competition gets fierce. So the question becomes, how do you build a great analytic culture?

There are many ways to do it. We heard some great ideas in this interview with two of our colleagues at SAS: Vice President of JMP Sales and Marketing Jon Weisz and JMP Director of Global Field Enablement Lou Valente.

They spend a lot of time thinking about how we can help our customers create a sense of urgency about exploring and analyzing data; why academic institutions aren’t doing more to train students, particularly engineering students, with essential analytic skills; and what we should do to encourage people to design and conduct experiments.

You have to let your people try (and fail) if you want to innovate.

“That’s right. Rewarding people for innovating and trying things, rather than public humiliation for failure! Because any of that, whether it’s fear of failure or even having internal systems and tools that are very burdensome and hard to use, just discourages people from doing analytics. Deming used to say ‘take fear out of the organization.’ That’s not the exact quote, but one of his principles.” (Jon Weisz)

“There has to be the freedom to innovate and try. Otherwise, you literally cannot do experimentation if you can’t innovate and try because that’s what in essence DOE [design of experiments] is – a lot of innovations and trials within the experiment.” (Jon Weisz)

We have to close the skills gap.

“I want to defend academia a little bit. I think there’s knowledge that [statistics courses] might be important, but it’s hard to fit in. But it’s vitally important, and people have to figure out how to fit it in. I think what academia needs to do, in terms of training scientists and engineers, is they need to deliver people into their careers that are well-prepared. And this is certainly an area where some progress could be made.” (Jon Weisz)



“I was fortunate enough to be with an organization where quality was in their DNA. And part of their process was basically the first two years there was a quality bootcamp partnering with the university in Rochester to close the gap when people graduated and to actually get us all up to speed on the analytical tools that we needed to be competitive.” (Lou Valente)

Encourage your team to look for exceptions to the rule.

“I thought there were always generalizations in the literature – the models, generalizations about mechanisms – but I’m looking for the exception to those generalizations. The exceptions are where the lawyers can write a patent and no one else can copy you.” (Lou Valente)


Make it fun and experimental.

“I think JMP, frankly, provides a lot of intrinsic aha's, as you use the product and you uncover new insights. I end up analyzing a lot of sales and marketing customer data, but I find out things often that ‘Boy, I didn’t know that.’ It’s an intrinsic motivation.  I think that part of the product is that it brings information from data to light very quickly and lets people ask questions in real time of their data. And that’s fun. So you end up with this large community of users who ... enjoy analyzing data for the benefit of their organizations.” (Jon Weisz)


For the full conversation, watch the video.

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