I came across a story recently about Walt Disney that really resonated with the way I’ve seen organisations succeed – or fail – when launching their initial “drive to data quality.”
Apparently, when Walt Disney was first creating Disneyland he told the designers to construct the castle first. The reason? He wanted everyone involved to witness the incredible sight of the castle and use that as a guiding vision for the quality and imagination that the rest of the part should aspire to.
This is a smart tactic for those fledgling data quality initiatives because you need to demonstrate that this stuff truly works before you start building committees, councils and all the other plumbing that goes into scaling up your data quality efforts.
In a recent interview with Jill Dyché (Data Governance and Data Quality Advice for Leaders) she talked about the need for avoiding the “kick-off and cold-cuts syndrome.” This is where organisations kick-off a data governance initiative only to complain about data quality without moving forward (and eating cold-cuts in endless meetings!). This is exactly why I believe you need to build your “data quality castle” first. Create an initiative that is within your grasp and will become a guiding light for future participants.
My first employer achieved this with scarce funding as we basically used our lunch breaks for training and some SQL and C scripts, the only data quality tools available at the time! We focused on one tightly defined problem and when we could demonstrate huge benefits to the organisation and individuals involved it became our version of data quality castle, other teams wanted to learn more and senior management could see that data quality process improvement could have a dramatic business impact.
Did you create a data quality castle to launch your initiative? Do you agree with this approach? Welcome your views.