Shifting to a data-driven business needs a shift in the culture. How do you build a culture around data? What behaviors are needed and how do you make that shift happen? Annella Heytens, Head of Human Resources, Amazon Web Services (AWS) joined us at TechHR 2020 and highlighted the ways in which organizations can build a data-driven culture, the AWS way.
Here are the key highlights-
Earth’s most customer-centric company
Amazon is a data-driven organization as its mission is to be the earth’s most customer-centric company. That really requires digging deep into data to know what the customers want and using it in the most effective manner.
Leadership principles backed by data
Amazon’s leadership principles are the glue that makes Amazon work. And every 14 of this principle looks at data and the firm gathers a lot of data around them. Diving deep is one of the key principles that speak about the data-driven culture. To invent and to simplify also requires a lot of data.
Power of narratives backed by data
Amazon also has a very unique communication style, which requires a lot of information. If you are making a business case in a narrative, you have to back it up with a lot of information. This document is read to the end, followed by a very robust dialogue wherein you are allowed to talk about the data you are looking at. This done on a daily basis, helps you to look at data in the right way to arrive at the right solution.
Data at the backbone of every decision
At AWS, data is at the back of every decision made and people are encouraged to support their ideas with the idea in order to build alignment with colleagues and managers. If you don’t have data to back what you are proposing, it is unlikely to go through. Annella shared an interesting fact that when you have to promote someone at Amazon, you have to write a promotion document, emphasizing on the importance of narratives and the written word. That document has to be backed by data of course.
Data to surface hidden talent
One of the most interesting use cases of data and analytics in HR at AWS is to surface hidden talent at AWS, talent which may not be visible in ongoing projects or in succession plans. Given that AWS has thousands of employees, it is impossible to surface it individually. A tool called PATH (WFP) to understand locating the talent and continuing to grow it. Similarly, the Connection tool helps to map the daily sentiments of employees. Success Profiles tool helps the company figure what makes specific employees successful in specific roles in order to quantify this data.
Ultimately, Annella concluded that at AWS, the ruling belief is that if you don’t have data, your words don’t hold that much weight.