By Lea Boreland · June 16, 2021
One of the operating principles we preach at Column is to “never stop learning.” We believe that we have a huge opportunity to put that principle into practice when it comes to our company’s internal data infrastructure.
This infrastructure is a key focus of our revenue and financial operations, sitting at the juncture of several systems that inform our ongoing narrative of the business — from the software that we use to track our sales pipeline to the tool that stores our business KPIs. We view the project of producing from these systems a constant stream of usable, investigable data as a key ingredient to enabling our team’s curiosity.
Here’s one way to think about it: If an average employee has a question about sales or customer success or even unit economics, how difficult is it for them to investigate it themselves?
The more difficult it is for the employees working directly with customers and prospects to ask and answer their own idiosyncratic questions about the business, the less the company can learn from that ground-level experience, the slower you are to iterate, and the more you limit and frustrate your most curious employees. Plus, if you aren’t enabling folks to ask the hard questions, they may very well forget to keep asking them.
This is where revenue and financial operations steps in to make usable, investigable data available at the edges of the organization. Our goal is to enable each employee to investigate all of their own hypotheses, such that we are forever increasing the surface area of the questions we are asking as a company.
Accomplishing this requires some work against inertia. We live in a world where the default is many, many softwares: an internal tool or two for every team at every company. Despite the fact that any given one of these systems of record promises to make us “data-driven,” in tandem they are not all automatically aligned with our most important realities as a business: those of our employees or our customers or our revenue.
Here is our four-step strategy to ensure we have the data at our disposal to never stop learning from our employees and our customers:
By taking these four steps, we push data to the edge and empower employees to ask the hard questions about our business. Our team is growing rapidly, and as we scale, we believe that sharing knowledge is key to working collaboratively and achieving our goals as a company. The principle “never stop learning” guides our everyday work. This is just one piece of how we aim to put that principle into practice.
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