When thinking about any team formation, the first thing to think about is the purpose of each team member. For example, if we consider most team based sporting set-ups, you will need to select a combination of offensive and defensive players, each with different nuances in those two broad disciplines. I.e. in a football team, you’ll want some of your attackers to have an eye for a great pass and others with a fierce shot. These attributes will not even be of consideration for the defensive outlet. However, every one of them can play football to the highest standard – they all have a basic set of core skills.
Diversity is a vitally important principle in any field, but there is a difference between diversity of thought and a difference in skill level. Do you think for a minute that Real Madrid, Manchester United or Bayern Munich would field anyone in their team who didn’t have world-class ball handling skills?
A successful Insights and Analytics (I&A) team will be built on a similar rationale. You’ll want some of your team to be all over the detail, with others being able to focus on the bigger picture and consider the macro impact of what they’re seeing. However the world class teams I have seen all have one thing in common: everyone has outstanding data handling and analysis skills; normally associated with having at least a STEM bachelors’ degree.
So, where does diversity come from? Just as with a professional football team it will come from what else they bring to their core skills essential to play the game at a high standard. Demographic diversity in any team is essential: it brings differing perspectives, different ways of looking at data and understanding of different customer sets. If you only employ white public-school educated men then whilst they can bring insight into customer like them, they are unlikely to add as much value elsewhere.
Experience brings insight and understanding, but it can also bring group-think and a refusal to believe things may change. Inexperience brings challenge, fresh perspective and the discomfort that comes from a simple question.
What we have also learned in our business is how a biologist looks at data differently from an engineer or mathematician; diversity of discipline brings insight and challenge.
There are two things however, that need to come with any team member along with the basic data handling skill-set. One is the same for a world class sports team: the ability to collaborate and act in a collegiate manner even if it means others taking the glory. The other is a core attribute for successful e-commerce – an ever-present curiosity. The best Insight and Analytics teams never take anything at face value.