At NeuroFlow, the ability to ask the right questions, produce and obtain data, and understand the story it tells impacts everything we do. Because when every employee can leverage data in their work, the steps to achieve our mission of bridging the gap between physical and mental health become much clearer.
From adopting intuitive tools to hosting collaborative info sessions, the far-reaching impact of NeuroFlow’s Data Science and Analytics team is fueled by a new and exciting focus on accessibility and empowerment. We sat down with the team’s Senior Director, Bill Lynch, to learn about his vision for a data-driven culture and the strategies his team is executing to support it.
What does a data-driven culture mean to you?
At the heart of it, a data-driven culture is a mindset rather than a specific set of tasks. It lives inside the organization, where data is ingrained in the thought process and decision-making. It’s thinking about all the pieces of information that exist to make a decision, regardless of whether it’s quantitative data.
In a data-driven culture, people intuitively include data in the discussion, and that is powered by the company’s ability to provide access to reliable, relevant data and train all team members to use data effectively by determining the story it’s presenting to them.
“A data-driven culture is a mindset rather than a specific set of tasks. It lives inside the organization, where data is ingrained in the thought process and decision-making.”
If data is core to the company strategy, you’re always thinking about it. That’s how we are at NeuroFlow. Whether we’re experimenting with a new process in our Customer Success department or the Product team is elevating its iterative approach, data is key. Tracking, measuring, and learning is one of many ways we embody our company values.
Why is building a data-driven culture so core to what we do at NeuroFlow?
Being data-driven is critical because it equips us to set goals and understand how our business is performing. We’ve always focused on being evidence-based and having that clinical and statistical rigor to drive a positive impact in addressing the mental health crisis. We can’t be as successful as we are by simply asking people to trust us. We need to prove it.
It’s part of our DNA to know what factors drive our decisions to improve outcomes, mitigate risks, and reduce the cost of care. You may be able to do these things on a hunch, but to maximize your returns and validate your approach, you will need to use data.
How are you and the data science team helping other departments embrace a data-driven culture?
I’ve been at NeuroFlow for over five years, and I’ve found that it often comes back to nurturing the analytical thinking of the people we have by being present and accessible to them. We’re showing people how to use data and think about it, even if they’re already technically proficient. We release team status updates frequently so people can get the gist of what we’re doing and what matters to us and connect the dots between what they’re doing and how it impacts the overall KPIs that we set.
We have recently created several initiatives to empower all employees to better leverage company data, including launching training for all employees on how to use our business intelligence tool. We also host “Data and Dines,” a road show spotlighting our most fascinating work and insights and the innovative tools we rely on daily. A recent session taught attendees how to pick the appropriate graphic when conveying findings.
“These efforts can encourage and empower everyone at NeuroFlow to incorporate data into their thinking, approaches, and, ultimately, their work.”
As I like to say, we’re teaching others to fish. There’s the technical part, but there’s also building the documentation around data so you can understand it. We want to be helpful, so we have office hours and invite all team members to come by with questions, ideas, or their own initiatives they’d like us to bolster with our data expertise.
These efforts can encourage and empower everyone at NeuroFlow to incorporate data into their thinking, approaches, and, ultimately, their work.
How is NeuroFlow’s data-driven approach boosting the success of our customers?
Our clinical partners often don’t get to spend enough time with the customers they are treating and helping on their path to well-being. Any additional context for a better understanding of what’s happening in a person’s life, what they’re thinking about, and what they’re doing in between appointments can help tell the holistic story of a person’s behavioral health.
Our triage engine gives providers and care teams a pulse of where a patient is based on their risk level or behavioral health at any time, not just when they are face-to-face with a provider. It provides visualizations, alerts, and reporting that help our partners understand the metrics that matter, pinpoint which people or populations need help most, and allocate resources appropriately.
What was the goal of adopting the new BI tool ThoughtSpot and integrating that into our company?
To be a proactive data-driven organization, we want to democratize the data experience for all employees. We want to empower them to answer questions for themselves using data, and we certainly don’t want to be the only guardians of these answers. But we soon saw that the bottleneck to becoming a data-driven organization was getting people to use the data, so we asked the question and the feedback loop told us we needed to find a new tool.
ThoughtSpot allows non-technical or non-data team stakeholders to answer questions independently so decisions can be made quicker. It does a great job of telling the story around data through its superior user experience and simple functionality, so people aren’t burnt out before they even get to the data point and have time and space to interpret the data and make informed decisions that help drive our business forward.
What projects are on the horizon for the data science team, and what are you excited to tackle next?
We’ve only been scratching the surface of ThoughtSpot’s capabilities. We’re at a very interesting inflection point of the company where we need tools and processes that can grow with us. In ThoughtSpot, we’ve found the tool for the future. We want to continue on the journey of self-service analytics that empowers people to make good decisions with their data.
We want to expand our suite of initiatives for driving our data-driven culture, from fluency and literacy to new analyses on engagement and outcomes. We also want to continue to improve the triage engine, the data we’re collecting to inform it, and the story it’s telling.
Overall, we want stakeholders across all departments to be able to combine data and uncover and tell the stories they wouldn’t have otherwise. For example, if the marketing team is weighing competing campaign investments, they should be able to use data from historical performances to quickly answer how to best allocate budget. We’re striving to gain a 360-degree picture of what’s going on. I’m excited to continue to work on that and ultimately make it successful.
You started as a data team of one, and now the team has grown significantly. What advice do you have for other data teams and leaders looking to build a data-driven culture at their organizations?
Building a data-driven culture takes time and effort but yields significant dividends. First, establish a clear vision for your team’s culture. What do you want to achieve? Regardless of your vision, it’s important to be present, accessible, and vocal in your organization. Make yourself easy to find and hard to ignore, and be the kind of person employees will feel comfortable approaching with questions and ideas.
Because data-driven thinking starts at the top, you must build rapport with stakeholders and leadership to understand their perspectives and needs and embrace a ‘yes’ mentality while maintaining purpose and direction. Next, get everyone on board. Promote data literacy by providing training and resources, and ensure everyone understands data’s relevance to their roles.
Teach people to be self-reliant with data. If you’re always answering people’s questions by doing the work for them, they won’t learn. One of my biggest challenges isn’t creating the analysis or dashboard. It’s getting people to actually spend time learning it. Most people want answers from data, and they can find those answers with our tools. It’s just a matter of connecting the two.
Our ultimate goal is to foster change by empowering others to understand their data, discuss it, and spread data utilization throughout the organization, so we can unlock opportunities for our teams, our customers, and the people they serve.
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