Unlocking the Power of Data Literacy: An interview with Jordan Morrow

In today’s data-driven world, data literacy is not just a buzzword; it’s a crucial skill that can empower individuals and organisations to thrive. I had the privilege of speaking with Jordan Morrow, a pioneer in the field of data literacy and the author of multiple books on the topic, including “Be Data Literate.” – my first purchase of the trilogy. In this interview, we delve into Jordan’s inspiration for writing about data literacy, the importance of data literacy in today’s world, common challenges people face on their data literacy journey and advice for fostering a data-literate culture in organisations.

Here’s what he had to say:

Q1: What Inspired you to Write About Data Literacy?

Jordan stated that his journey into the world of data literacy began with a desire to pioneer and shape its development. He shared, “I have been at the forefront of how it’s developing, speaking about it all over the world.” His journey to becoming a data literacy author was not without its twists and turns. Interestingly, Jordan’s first attempt at co-writing a book didn’t go to plan, giving him valuable insight into the challenges of the writing process. However, his dedication paid off when one of his talks caught the attention of a publisher, leading to the successful authorship of three books in three years. Jordan’s passion for data literacy and his commitment to empowering others through knowledge shine through in his writing.

Jordan discovered the value of sharing his expertise and insights with the world, making him a leading voice in the field.

“Data Literacy is an empowering thing if you have the right mindset with it that allows you to jump in” – what his books truly aspire to do, is get people comfortable with data.

Q2: Why Is Data Literacy So Important in Today’s World?

We live in a world inundated with data, and Jordan believes that everyone needs to be comfortable with data, technology, and AI, regardless of their professional background. Failing to embrace these technologies could alter or even eliminate career prospects in a digital world. Data literacy, according to Jordan, empowers individuals to navigate this data-driven landscape effectively. His book, “Be Data Literate,” is designed to help non-data professionals jump in and get comfortable with data without the need for coding or statistics knowledge. In essence, data literacy is about ensuring you can compete in a world increasingly dominated by technology.

“You don’t need to be a data scientist, you don’t need to learn how to code, you don’t need to learn statistics, but you do need to be comfortable so that you can compete with these technologies – and that’s why it matters”.

Q3: What are the Common Challenges People face when becoming Data Literate?

1. Getting Started: Jordan describes this as the biggest challenge yet. The data space is huge and can sometimes look overwhelming – we have data visualisation, data ethics, ai, statistics – so many people don’t know where to start. You need to sit back and think – how can I overcome that fear?

2. Hype vs. Reality: There’s often exaggerated hype surrounding data and analytics, which can lead to misconceptions. With social media, news etc. It’s crucial to have informed conversations about what data actually does.

3. Fear and Intimidation: Many associate data and analytics with coding and technical expertise, leading to fear and intimidation. Jordan states the importance of not getting caught up in “new years resolution syndrome” – so many people choose an element they hate so after a few weeks the give up. Overcome the challenge by investing your time in an aspect you genuinely enjoy.

Q4: What advice would you give to companies Fostering a Data-Literate Culture?

Jordan discussed that in order to truly foster a data-literate culture within organisations – you will require genuine investment and commitment. Leaders must lead by example and actively participate in data literacy initiatives. It’s not enough to passively invest in training; organisations must take a proactive approach to ensure their workforce truly succeeds in the data-driven landscape. Jordan stated how culture plays a pivotal role, and employees should witness their leaders actively engaging with data.

“If you want your workforce to really succeed in data, if you’re actually going to do this, you need to truly do it… If you’re not going to invest in it properly, what’s the point? You’re not going to get the ROI”.

Q5: What’s your Advice for Beginners on the Data Literacy Journey

For those starting their data literacy journey, Jordan recommends embracing the “3 C’s” of Data Literacy: Curiosity, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. These skills empower individuals to ask questions, bring creativity to data analysis, and think critically about the information they encounter. Jordan also emphasises that one doesn’t need to become a data scientist; instead, data literacy is about evolving your skillset to effectively utilise data in your role.

  • Curiosity: Data and analytical work should be spurred on by getting good at questions.
  • Creativity: Data and analytics needs the human element to be brought to it.
  • Critical thinking: We have to get good at thinking deeper about the information in front of us.

Q6: How does the Future of Data Literacy Look to You?

According to Jordan, the future of data literacy is bright and essential. As AI takes on more technical tasks, humans need to interact with it effectively. Data literacy will be crucial in working with AI, making informed decisions, and understanding the insights generated. Jordan believes that being able to interact intelligently with AI is becoming increasingly important.

“We need humas to work with generative AI, we need it to be a part of decisions, descriptive analytics, predictive analytics. We need people to absorb these things more effectively – and that’s data literacy.”

Q7: What are the Key Takeaways from “Be Data Literate”

Jordan wants readers of his book, “Be Data Literate,” to understand that data literacy is not about changing who you are but empowering you to be more effective in your role. It’s about evolving your skillset to harness the power of data, communicate effectively with tech experts, and utilise data as a part of your personal and professional identity.

“Data literacy is here to empower you, not change you.”

Jordan Morrow’s insights shed light on the significance of data literacy in today’s world and the journey toward becoming data-literate. His passion for empowering individuals and organisations through data literacy is truly inspiring, and his book serves as a valuable guide on this transformative path.

If you liked this discussion, don’t miss his upcoming talk at ‘Big Data London’ on September 20th, where he, along with the “Datavengers,” will continue to explore the exciting world of data and analytics.

Keen to hear your thoughts around Data Literacy. Are you a C Suite professional who truly understands data? Are you comfortable with how to get the most out of data within your organisation? Do you fear being left behind as a result of not being Data Literate?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments or DM and as always, thanks for reading!