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Changing Culture

Many government leaders believe they need a “data-driven culture” to usher in more effective and efficient services to residents. They see managers rely primarily (sometimes exclusively) on gut instinct and experience to guide their work. Data seems trapped in silos. Employees are not using data to inform their work out of reluctance, fear, lack of awareness, or training. Tools used to manage and analyze data are intimidating, and very few people understand which tools to reach for first. All the while, technology becomes cheaper, the world becomes awash with data, and everyone wants to “work smarter” not harder.

Compared to this reality, a “data-driven culture” seems appealing. But what does that really mean? And how do governments make the shift? The Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University (GovEx), a partner in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative, created this practical guide to help governments advance open data, analytics, and performance management practices by shaping their organizational culture. The guide includes characteristics of cultures adept with data, diagnostic tips for understanding existing organizational culture, and practical suggestions for influencing that culture.


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